HSCI community gathers for Second Annual Retreat

Because of its potential to impact so many areas of human health, stem cell research is, by its very nature, a collaborative enterprise that involves scientists spanning multiple disciplines. The Harvard Stem Cell Institute is a case in point: HSCI encompasses more than 750 scientists throughout Boston conducting research of a broad range of diseases, from cancer and diabetes to nervous system disorders.

For the sake of efficiency, much of this collaboration takes place virtually. But there is no substitute for personal interaction, which is what drew 300-plus members of the HSCI research community to HSCI’s second annual retreat. The daylong event was held June 14 at the Harvard Business School in Allston, a stone’s throw from the site of the science complex that, when completed in several years, will be HSCI’s new home.

“The HSCI research community is so large and diverse that it’s important to have a chance to get to know each other, learn about each other’s work, and become integrated into the larger HSCI community,” says HSCI Principal Faculty member Carla Kim, PhD. “It’s equally valuable for scientists to know about all the services and resources that are available to them through HSCI.” Kim and fellow HSCI Principal Faculty member Richard Gregory, PhD, both of Children’s Hospital Boston, were Faculty Co-Chairs of this year’s retreat, which focused on a review of past and recent achievements and new directions.

The event began with an overview by HSCI Executive Director Brock C. Reeve of HSCI’s accomplishments over the past year; the newly established cross-school department, which will work closely with HSCI; and an update on the status of the Allston science complex.

Leaders of several of HSCI’s Disease Programs then presented updates on progress in their areas of research. This was followed by presentations by HSCI faculty about the institute’s core technology programs, which are significant resources for the entire HSCI research community.

Also speaking at the retreat were Erik Halvorsen, PhD, of Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, who addressed intellectual property and opportunities for commercialization, and Jay O. Light, DBA, Dean of Harvard Business School, who spoke on the “Business of Science.”

Among the highlights of the day were the announcement of the 2007 HSCI Seed Grant recipients and the very popular poster presentations, which showcased the research of 44 HSCI investigators. The retreat concluded with an outdoor reception.