The NC Research Campus Catalyst Group hosted their second annual research symposium, Celebrating Research and Collaborations at the NCRC, on Monday, April 15, 2013 in the core lab event room. The Catalyst Group, which fosters personal and professional relationships between researchers on campus, hosted 100 attendees who benefited from a poster competition, faculty presentations, keynote address and panel discussion on collaboration.
The poster competition featured 18 entries that highlighted the breadth of the research underway on campus. Winners were:
First Place: Chromerida Algae: A Novel Anti-Malarial Bioexploration Tool? by Josh Kellogg, doctoral candidate, and Mary Ann Lila, PhD, NCSU Plants for Human Health director. Prize: Samsung Galaxy Tablet.
Second Place: Metformin Prevents ErbB2-overexpressing Breast Carcinogenesis by Specifically Targeting on Tumor Initiating Cells through Perturbation of the ErbB2 Signaling Pathway by Pei Zhu, PhD, and Xiaohe Yang, PhD, NCCU Nutrition Research Program. Prize: Amazon Kindle.
Third Place: Hyper-glucocorticoid is a critical mediator in the development of fatty liver in ethanol-fed mice by Sarah Sun, PhD, UNCG Center for Translational Biomedical Research. Prize: Amazon.com Voucher.
Special Recognition: Production of Human Prostrate Acid Phosphatase (hPAP) BTC-281 by students Timothy Dial and Jennifer Grimes with Allan Kaufman, PhD, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. Prize: Ipod.
Learning from the Masters
National Program Leader for Human Nutrition John Finley, PhD, with the US Department of Agriculture, presented the keynote address, The Art of Integrating Agricultural, Nutritional and the Food Science Research- Learnings from the Great Masters. Finley placed the research goals of the campus in the context of the global challenge to feed nine billion people by the year 2050. He emphasized that for many NCRC scientists, the work they are doing now in human health, agriculture and nutrition will generate the discoveries and technologies that are needed to respond to this pending global crisis.
More than producing agricultural commodities,
Finley continued, the challenge is to provide sustenance for the world. “Sustenance,” he said, “is about food and nutrition.” He showed examples of how the fields of agricultural production and nutrition have become disconnected and advocated a “systems” approach that focuses on the consumer and the production of nourishing diets.
Finley illustrated his talk with examples of fine art and the story of how concepts of form and color were merged by two different schools of painting. He featured images of masters like Francisco Goya, a Spanish painter recognized as an “Old Master” and “the first of the moderns,” to encourage people to push the boundaries of their research by:
• Understanding the basics
• Mastering their craft
• Leading in the effort to address contemporary issues
• Accepting that breaking out of comfort zones is required to change the world.
The Future of Collaboration
A panel discussion on The Future of Collaboration wrapped up the event. Panelists John Finley; Devin Collins, assistant director of Business and Entrepreneurial Development at UNC Charlotte’s Charlotte Research Institute; Rich David, MD, professor of ophthalmology and research navigator with NC TracCS Institute at UNC Chapel Hill; Judy Heylmun, president of Fore Sense + One; and Andrew Shanely, PhD, assistant professor of exercise science with the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory, emphasized the importance of:
• Forming clear agreements regarding the management and sharing of data and intellectual property that allow academicians to publish freely and companies to review and use the data to achieve their goals.
• Entering competitions like the Charlotte Venture Challenge, a business competition for early stage, high growth companies, as a way to jump start the formation of a business plan and draw the attention of collaborators and investors.
• Taking the time when writing grants and planning projects to make sure that the needs and goals of each party are completely understood and that all of the decision makers, including groups like marketing and legal, are included in the planning.
• Recognizing that collaborating with other academic or private organizations is becoming necessary as federal grant money becomes harder to obtain. Shanely shared that the ASU lab is almost completely funded by corporate research sponsors. Davis described the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute’s Carolina Kick Start Program that provides support for faculty in commercializing biomedical technologies. Collins mentioned pursuing open innovation programs that many companies.
• Networking, calling or e-mailing people and joining professional groups as well as taking advantages of resources from organizations like the Charlotte Research Institute and NC TraCS are viable ways to meet potential mentors, collaborators and investors.
• Including indirect and overhead costs that an academic institution charges within a private partner’s project budget, not in addition to it, is how to manage that situation.