Research Week wrap up

Last week saw OHSU’s first Research Week, a whole week dedicated to guest speakers, poster sessions, and presentations from all different fields here at OHSU.  A chance for all the researchers here on the hill to see what other work is being done, and an opportunity to highlight the importance of the research community as a whole.  Obviously as a PMCB grad student I think every week should be research week, since I can’t imagine anything being more important than what we do.  I had thought that this was a given, that everything on campus (and no doubt the rest of the world) revolved around our work, but apparently we also have a hospital and a medical school here. I guess I should get out of the lab a bit more often.

Other than spotlighting research, it was also a great opportunity to see how varied the work here is.  I’ve always thought of this campus as very small and interconnected, so I was surprised to see all the variety in talks and posters for projects I had never heard of.  Everything from public health, to infant brain scans, to statistics covering the causes of bike accidents.  It was great to see what’s going on in the medical, clinical, and patient care sides of the hospital, and how interconnected we all are.  I even found myself interested in some of the dental school posters (and I’m normally terrified of dentists, not dentistry per se, just dentists).

The chance to see each others’ work, to derive new ideas about our own research from them, and to build possible collaborations tied in nicely with the theme of the opening key note from Nora Disis.  She spoke about her work in bringing a tumor vaccine to trial, and the importance of using cross discipline collaborations.  I learned early on that my ability to only occasionally make a calculator give me correct numbers ill suited me for a career in bioinformatics, so the need to collaborate with experts in other fields really resonated with me.  For this reason alone I think forums like Research Week are great resources for the scientific community.

I wish I could go into some of the other great topics covered. For instance, Darlene Francis’s talk on childhood stress affecting epigenetics and how it tied in with Elizabeth Blackburn’s presentation on telomeres last April.  But the sign of a good event is that there is more to talk about than time to do so.  I’m really looking forward to the next time this event rolls around, maybe I’ll even win that iPad.  Although I didn’t really need the incentive a free iDevice to attend Research Week, or even great presenters, they had me at free food and beer.

I’d like to point out the awesome job Jackie Wirz, Allison Anacker, and everyone on the planning committee did in setting up this event and making it such a success.  I’d also like to drop a passive aggressive reminder about how much better the event would be if it wasn’t scheduled during midterms!

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