CTSC Speed-Networking Event Helps Scientists Find Collaborators

What has worked for entrepreneurs looking to expand their client network, Weill Cornell Medical College thinks could work for scientists looking for research collaborators.

More than 80 basic and clinical scientists gathered at the Weill Greenberg Center on Oct. 30 for the Translational Research Bazaar, a speed-networking session organized by Weill Cornell's Clinical and Translational Science Center; the goal was to find scientific common ground for collaboration.

Seated at a long table in a large room Ñ basic scientists on one side, clinical on the other Ñ participants had about three minutes to exchange cards, share bios and give one another a very brief summary of their work. Then, at the sound of a bell, the clinical researchers moved one chair to the right. Animated conversations filled the room. For those whose scientific spark was lit and a connection made during the thirty-five rapid-fire rounds, a wine and cheese mixer followed, offering the potential partners an opportunity to discuss their work and possible collaboration.

"Our purpose is to spur collaboration not only between basic and clinical scientists, but between our partner institutions as well," said Dr. Julianne Imperato-McGinley, CTSC program director at Weill Cornell.

"The Bazaar was a great idea. People couldn't stop talking."

The CTSC seeks to create partnerships between scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Hospital for Special Surgery, Cornell University Cooperative Extension in New York City, Hunter College School of Nursing, Hunter College Center for the Study of Gene Structure and Function, and Weill Cornell-affiliated hospitals. By combining the intellectual power of these institutions, research and medical discoveries could be more quickly facilitated from the laboratory to the patients that need them.

"We had an unprecedented response to the event invitation," said Sherrie Vassallo, a research facilitator on the CTSC Research Support team and one of the event organizers.

According to Dr. Imperato-McGinley, 90 percent of the exit survey responses indicated that participating scientists had met at least one potential new partner at the Research Bazaar.

One of those scientists, Robert Dottin, Ph.D., director of the Hunter College Gene Center, said, "The Bazaar was a great idea that clearly achieved its intended goals. People couldn't stop talking when the bell rang. This was a fantastic opportunity for our Hunter investigators to understand more about the Clinical and Translational Science Center and what its goal is."

Dr. Hazel Szeto, professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell, found at least three new collaborators - including Yuhang Ren, Ph.D., of Hunter College - at the event.

"I went to the Bazaar because I am always on the lookout for collaborators who can add a new dimension to our research," Dr. Szeto said. "Yuhang can provide me with sophisticated physical methods to study electron transfer. This will complement what I can do with biochemical tools."