LOOKING FORWARD in Research: Research Retreat Notes by Dr. Gerschenson

The following is a summary of highlights from the John A. Burns School of Medicine Research Retreat held earlier this month. Submitted by Dr. Mariana Gerschenson, Interim Director of Research.

On Halloween 2013, a group of leaders and scientists met at the JABSOM medical education building to discuss the status of the collective research efforts at JABSOM and the opportunities during the challenging times faced by UH Mānoa and its instructional/research units. Attending the meeting were members of the JABSOM Executive Committee, designees of the Deans/Directors from Cancer Center and College of Health Sciences and Social Welfare, JABSOM Institute and Center Directors, and selected Junior Investigators.

The goals of the retreat were to (a) Review where Research fits in JABSOM-Vision, Mission, Values; (b) Better understand collective resources and growing synergy within JABSOM and her health sciences partners; (c) Identify opportunities, ‘low hanging fruit’-research funding; and (d) Prioritize next steps for immediate attention over the next 12-24 months. Note that this effort builds upon the JABSOM commitment to bring basic science knowledge into the clinical practice of medicine via translational research. The PowerPoint presentations from the meeting are posted on the WEBLINK and a list of the participants and other faculty members is provided at WEBLINK.

Note that the retreat built upon long-range planning for Kaka’ako as a health sciences hub for UH Mānoa, growing collaborations by JABSOM with its health science and social welfare partners through the College of Health Sciences and Social Welfare, receipt of three large research infrastructure grants in the last 5 years with disparities emphasis, prior JABSOM translational research priorities (cardiovascular, biogenesis, infectious diseases, and neuroscience), and the JABSOM shared values, vision & mission.
For review, the JABSOM shared values are as follows:

• Collaboration: Shared accomplishments in the spirit of partnership
• Diversity and Inclusion: Respect for the entire spectrum of human experience
• Excellence: Guiding all of our efforts in research, education, and service
• Innovation and Discovery: The generation, application, and transmission of new knowledge
• Pono: Integrity, ethics, and equity, taking action to eliminate health disparities in the spirit of social justice

These shared values were noted to match well with those of our health sciences partners.
The JABSOM vision of Maika’i Ioa: Attain Lasting Optimal Health for All (ALOHA) also resonates with our health science partners with its unifying vision of a focus on attaining and maintaining optimal health.
Finally, the JABSOM mission has several elements that reinforce our purpose in strong collaboration with our health sciences partners. Specifically, “JABSOM, as part of the fabric of Hawai`i, is a diverse learning community committed to excellence and leadership in:

• Educating current and future healthcare professionals and leaders
• Delivering high-quality healthcare
• Conducting research and translating discoveries into practice
• Establishing community partnerships and fostering multidisciplinary collaboration
• Pursuing alliances unique to Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region
• Acting with forethought regarding right relationships, respect, and ethical action. Pono

Retreat Presentations:

The presentations emphasized the status of resources and opportunities for collaboration:
Community-based research strengths were summarized by J. Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula.
• Large clinical data base access and analytical support were summarized by John Chen.
Research Resources/Cores supporting basic, clinical & translational research were summarized by Robert Nichols.
School of Nursing focused research teams (hui’s) and other resources were summarized by Kristine Qureshi.
Cancer Center Research Cores and strategic organization were summarized by Joe Ramos.
Status of Graduate Education at JABSOM and the changes underway at UH Mānoa in graduate education were summarized by Mariana Gerschenson.
Historical vision for research as part of the fabric of JABSOM, the Cadman research vision for JABSOM, and some future looking opportunities were summarized by W. Steve Ward.

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats) Analysis:

Following these discussions we performed a focused SWOT analysis. From the earlier presentations and discussion the following analysis was obtained. Each participant was given five votes for the opportunities that should be JABSOM’s focus in the next 12-24 months. The opportunities are listed in descending order of recommendation with the votes noted in parentheses.

• Shared values extending into research endeavors – culture of collaboration
• Many well developed or developing research cores (basic science, analytical, and clinical science)
• College of Health Sciences & Social Welfare ties to health systems and community organizations
• Established research focus

• Small state with relatively small academic health sciences units

• Distance from other academic centers limits intellectual exchange and greater awareness of quality of scientific work in Hawai`i

• Challenges establishing a critical mass of investigators about health sciences focus areas

• Promote JABSOM specific Fiscal Reserve Policy at UH Mānoa and System that will support research and instructional infrastructure and reasonable bridging support (16)

• Develop mentoring teams using resources from infrastructure grants (RMATRIX-II, INBRE, BRIDGES), Cancer Center P-30, DNHH P-20, SoN research hui’s, etc. that connect junior & senior investigators and (where appropriate) community investigators (12)

• Elevate recognition for mentor – establish teaching workload credit equivalent criteria for formal mentoring program activity – incorporate into promotion recognition (12)

• Develop pre-grant review program using external reviewers with travel support to Hawai`i associated with junior investigator feedback and Continuing Education presentations (12)

• Emphasize health disparities themes leveraging multiethnic-multicultural population (11)

• Focus more on effectiveness research using established community partners (11)

• Develop biomedical informatics leveraging national and statewide big data and informatics base under discussion by state authorities for Lot C (10)

• Promote research cores and build networks of investigators (10)

• Evolve Philanthropy that will support research efforts (11)

• Develop more interdisciplinary research/educational curricula (9)

• Develop and seek opportunities with international partners (8)

• Elevate UH Mānoa and System awareness of opportunities in health sciences & social welfare to encourage re-investment in these endeavors (7)

• Participate in planning and promotion of Health Sciences campus. Extension of original vision of semi-autonomous health sciences campus (7)

• Update web site and incorporate research activities, collaborations and core support (3)

• Focus on personalized medicine opportunities using existing large cohorts to jump start analytics coupled with novel medical educational opportunities (2)

• Develop MD/PhD program (2)

• Build more team science – interdisciplinary, multi-professional collaborations (1)

• Streamline the process for joint appointments between JABSOM and other UH Mānoa units (e.g., Cancer Center) (1)

• Establish more training grants through partnerships with CTSAs, RTRN, and College Health Sciences & Social Welfare colleagues (0)

• Encourage multiple PI – R-grant applications (0)

• Limited fiscal support with Mānoa entering deficit spending mode – campus cuts likely
• Little clarity on Mānoa vision, goals or immediate/long-term priorities
• Limited state/legislative/public understanding of economics of research in general, health sciences research in particular

Next steps:

The Dean and JABSOM Interim Research Director will work with the JABSOM Executive Committee, JABSOM Faculty Senate, Research Investigators, College of Health Sciences & Social Welfare leaders, UH Mānoa & System leaders and community leaders to develop tactical steps around the most strongly supported opportunities. These opportunities build upon the established commitment to clinical & translational science informed by basic science research and emphasizing approaches to reducing health disparities. Some of the mid-range opportunities will be pursued through existing grants, and therefore will not receive the same level of attention until we have made progress on the following most strongly recommended activities:

• Promote fiscal reserve policy for JABSOM
• Foster the development of mentoring teams
• Elevate recognition for mentors
• Develop pre-grant review program using external reviewers