Thursday, April 03, 2014
Dean Reece has appointed a small group of senior faculty to develop specific strategies to achieve the goals for Shared Vision 2020 for Research. This oversight resource advisory group began meeting last year to discuss how they could use “strategic disruptive innovation,” defined as a product or service that takes root initially in simple applications and then relentlessly advances, eventually displacing established competitors, to advance Shared Vision 2020.
Margaret McCarthy, PhD, leads the Research & Resources Oversight Advisory Committee (RROAC), which includes Thomas Blanpied, PhD; Jonathan Bromberg, MD, PhD; Scott Devine, PhD; Asaf Keller, PhD; Elias Melhem, MD; J. Marc Simard, MD, PhD; J. Kathleen Tracy, PhD; Stefanie Vogel, PhD; and David Weber, PhD. At their first planning meeting, the RROAC identified current products and services unique to the School of Medicine which could potentially be used to displace the challenges to securing research funding, notably federal support. The RROAC focused in on three areas of excellence: technologies, diseases and patient care, and applications for military medicine.
Technological strengths: The array of cutting-edge, high-throughput sequencing services, coupled with the expertise of faculty and staff, available at the School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS), make this a key technological resource. The RROAC believes that faculty should take greater advantage of the knowledge and skills at IGS, to help advance and encourage major collaborative research projects.
The Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics (CBT) is a second area of technological strength. CBT has a wide menu of services available at relatively low costs to School of Medicine faculty, including the ability to pay for half of a postdoctoral fellow’s salary assigned to a specific project.
“IGS and CBT provide investigators access to tools that individual laboratories could not support, and has experts willing and extremely interested in the research who can help analyze data at a level that can improve publication impact and strengthen grant applications,” says Dr. McCarthy. “I have colleagues at other universities who are simply green with envy over the resources we have here at the School of Medicine.”
Over the years, the School of Medicine has made major investments in imaging equipment that can advance research at the macroscopic level, such as imaging the whole human brain, down to the details of cell-cell interactions at the microscopic level. Having access to all this equipment is unusual at a single academic medical university, and places the School of Medicine at a great advantage over peer institutions in terms of leveraging our imaging capabilities for basic, translational and clinical research.
The new Center for Innovative Biomedical Resources (CIBR), still in its early stages, will become yet another key research resource for the School, and must be exploited to significantly advance the expertise and capabilities of a single laboratory.
Patient care and military medicine strengths: The RROAC identified potential partnerships with clinical faculty in transplantation research and shock trauma, respectively. “We have incredible investigators on the patient care side and on the bench research side, but need to form a stronger alignment between the basic and clinical departments to advance these areas of strength,” says Dr. McCarthy.
Next steps: RROAC members plan to speak with outside experts on core technologies to see how these resources are managed at other institutions and develop best practices for the School of Medicine. The group also hopes to identify funds to support mini-grants to encourage pilot projects and new collaborations. Working with the Office of Public Affairs & Communications, the RROAC plans to increase community awareness of the resources already available to all faculty, students, staff and trainees.
Capitalizing upon the in-house strengths of the School of Medicine, while a relatively simple step to take, could displace challenges to research and has great potential for putting the School on a path to success.