2012 Annual HSCI Malkin Retreat

"Innovating Stem Cell Research" was the theme for the Seventh Annual HSCI Malkin Retreat held on the Harvard campus on Friday, May 18, 2012. Faculty co-chairs David Breault, MD, PhD, (BCH) and Bernhard Kuhn, PhD, (BCH) selected the theme to remind the audience that the forward trajectory of research is dependent on innovation. The HSCI community clearly agreed…over 400 members registered.

Mark Fishman, MD, President of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, delivered the morning's keynote. With a perspective developed from years within academia and industry, his talk entitled "Is Harvard perfect? Hints from the hinterland," struck a chord with the attentive audience. Espousing the view that collaboration is a vital component of innovation since no single organization has all the resources needed, he reminded people to keep channels of communication open and be constantly attentive to items or issues (workflow, organizational culture, etc.) that impede progress or problem resolution.

Fishman's exhortations segued into Eva Guinan's, MD, remarks on the need for multi-disciplinary skills and metrics to generate alternative research hypotheses and evaluate innovative solutions. A co-director of the Harvard Catalyst Innovation and Implementation program, she develops empiric experiments to understand how industry-based innovation techniques and novel concepts in team formation can be effectively applied to academic biomedical science, and used the example of a recent Harvard-wide project in scanning for new ideas for solutions for diabetes.

The topic of imaging — and better means of "imagining" — live cells was the theme for the closing keynote delivered, appropriately enough, by a scientist from another scientific discipline. Xiaowei Zhuang, PhD, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Physics, captivated the audience with her presentation on the emerging technology of singlemolecule and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. Her innovation in microscopy using the STORM method has been adopted worldwide and generated important insights into cellular sub-structures.

The day-long event was punctuated by presentations from HSCI faculty George Daley, MD, PhD, on the role of Lin28/Let-7 regulation and Richard Lee, MD, on a new cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional project. 2010 Seed Grant recipients provided concise reviews of their projects and 38 posters were presented at lunch and during the closing reception. HSCI is deeply grateful for the continuing support of Tony and Shelley Malkin for this important annual event.