October 12, 2017
We all know that research is a team sport. Where would Watson be without Crick – and other scientists who contributed to the understanding of DNA, including the unsung heroine, Rosalind Franklin?
Our goal at McGovern Medical School is to support a collaborative and enriching research environment. This past week, we sponsored two events on our campus to help foster collaboration and the exchange of ideas – our medical school’s 18th annual research retreat and an inaugural mini-retreat held in conjunction with the School of Public Health.
Led by Dr. John Byrne, associate dean for research, and the Office of Research Affairs, the Research Retreat is a longstanding tradition of this medical school, bringing senior scientists and new investigators together to highlight and talk about their research. It was wonderful to be at the Institute of Molecular Medicine seeing so many of our bright scientists showcasing their work. Our guest speaker, Dr. Hiromitsu Nakauchi, professor of genetics at Stanford University, gave an exciting talk on “Exploiting the developmental organ niche for interspecies organogenesis.” There was a palpable energy among the participants as medical school research took center stage.
In addition to the annual research retreat, our Office of Research Affairs offers a series of Collaborative Workshops throughout the year to promote interdisciplinary research interactions among clinicians and basic scientists. I encourage our investigators to attend these sessions. In addition, the research service centers located across campus are available to all researchers throughout UTHealth to provide the latest technologies to help their research.
Beyond networking among our own colleagues within the medical school, we recently tried something new with a “mini-retreat” held at the Medical School with School of Public Health (SPH) faculty. The intent of the retreat was to help forge new research connections and to break down perceptions of institutional silos. Investigators from the SPH came to the medical school to discuss resources available to us, including the Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials, which provides full-service clinical trial management; big data resources for study design and analysis; the Prevention, Preparedness & Response Academy for disaster training; dissemination and implementation research; and genomics and bioinformatics services available through the Human Genetics Center. A special thank you to Dean Eric Boerwinkle for coordinating the session and to Drs. Barry Davis, Christine Markham, Alanna Morrison, Cecilia Ganduglia-Cazaban, Hulin Wu, Janelle Rios, and Maria Fernandez for speaking at the retreat.
I’ve attached the slides that were presented by the School of Public Health teams. Please review and consider how these research resources may be of use in your own work. I promised Dean Boerwinkle that we would follow-up with a parallel session at the SPH – a mini medical school 101. Please send ideas on what would be meaningful to present to our SPH colleagues.
Recently, seed grants that require collaborations among various disciplines, or require the participation of both a clinical scientist and a basic scientist, have been established by UTHealth as we look for ways to push research boundaries and make new research matches.
We are always looking for ways to improve interactions among our researchers because we know that the most productive research requires connections and collaborations. If you have ideas about how we can better improve collaborations, I would love to hear from you.
With deference to the importance of research, the absolute treat of my week was the concert and discussion led by pianist Mark Vogel. Mr. Vogel is a performer, music director, and conductor. The second performer in our new Arts and Resiliency series, Mark played wonderful music by Bach, Chopin, Brubeck, and others and talked about the science of music and the ability of music to heal. The performance and discussion were breathtaking and the enthusiasm in the room was palpable.