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Retreat Brings Researchers From Varying Units Together for Collaboration

Retreat Brings Researchers From Varying Units Together for Collaboration

Published: 11/7/2017

You’ve heard the saying, "Two heads are better than one.”

When it comes to developing better, more effective treatments for cancer, the concept at UC is that two departments working together are better than one. 

The 2017 Cincinnati Cancer Research Retreat, held Nov. 3 on the UC Reading Campus, had that overarching mission—fostering collaboration among basic researchers and clinicians within the UC College of Medicine’s cancer biology and internal medicine departments to improve cancer outcomes.

The day highlighted progress from cancer researchers representing clinical and research units from across the Academic Health Center and included several networking sessions and a research poster competition. 

Jason Chesney, MD, PhD, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville, was the keynote speaker, discussing his results from investigating immune checkpoint therapy in melanoma and its potential for combination with other therapies to further improve cancer treatment. 

"Our goal for the day was to foster scientific exchange and collaboration among the cancer-focused clinicians, scientists and leaders who are driving progress in cancer care and science,” said David Plas, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Cancer Biology who co-organized the event along with Xiaoyang Qi, PhD, professor in the Division of Hematology Oncology, and Xiaoting Zhang, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Cancer Biology. "We had speakers and attendees from across the cancer research units at UC and Cincinnati Children’s, highlighted by a record 58 poster presentations from graduate and postdoc trainees, as well as research staff.” 

The retreat began with opening remarks from Jun-Lin Guan, PhD, Francis Brunning Endowed Chair and professor of cancer biology, and Gregory Rouan, MD, Gordon and Helen Hughes Taylor Chair in Internal Medicine. Both spoke of the great accomplishments within in their departments and how working together has helped in achieving success. 

Guan says they’ve recruited five new researchers in the past several years and have published over 200 research studies in academic journals since 2014.

"We have 11 major research grants with faculty from cancer biology and other units serving as collaborative investigators,” he says, noting the importance of collaboration across departments. "We will continue to improve our intellectual environment to stimulate individual labs and support collaboration among researchers as well as focus on recruitment.” 

Rouan focused his remarks on the "pace of change” around the Academic Health Center.

"The work basic scientists do every day aids in the work of clinicians,” he says. Rouan added that his department has a whopping 288 faculty members—a number that impresses other internal medicine department chairs throughout the U.S. He also said that grant award funding for faculty within the department totals upward of $80 million and that the return on investment for research to the institution and the Tristate as a whole is over $12 million.

"We need to grow our own, and to do that, we need new investigators, new physicians and the like,” he says. "Collaboration is key—I can’t emphasize how important that is to us in the Department of Internal Medicine. I’m proud to be here and part of this College of Medicine.”

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