March 7, 2008
SAC meeting focuses on academic/industry relationships

The interactions of academic institutions like the MGH with pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries were closely examined Feb. 13 at the 61st annual Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting — "Bridges Between MGH and Industry: A 360° Look."

The meeting began with a review of the current status of industry relationships at the MGH and Partnerswide efforts to assess and guide future interactions. MGH leaders and industry representatives, some of whom are SAC members, shared personal perspectives on the state of the relationship at the MGH and in the wider scientific community. David Blumenthal, MD, of the MGH Institute for Health Policy, discussed the public's often conflicting perceptions and concerns about industry/academic relationships, and SAC members shared their own experiences and addressed current and future risks, demands and opportunities.

Translating scientific discovery into therapeutics and producing interventions that will improve the lives of patients is one of the ultimate goals of a world-class medical research institute like the MGH," says Jerrold Rosenbaum, MD, chair of the Executive Committee on Research and chief of Psychiatry. "This cannot happen without the knowledge and ability to test, manufacture and distribute new medications and devices. So, to realize our scientific vision, we must have thoughtfully managed relationships with our colleagues in industry."

poster sessionThe SAC meeting was preceded by the Feb. 12 Celebration of Science, where 146 MGH teams presented research posters, 11 of which were named Posters of Distinction. (Click here for a complete list of the Posters of Distinction). Eight James P. Timilty Middle School students attended with the science fair projects they developed with the support of their MGH mentors. At the annual scientfic symposium, Jack Szostak, PhD, of MGH Molecular Biology, discussed his research on primitive cells and cell membranes. Nir Hacohen, PhD, of the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases, addressed the use of gene-silencing techniques to explore the immune response, and Konrad Hochedlinger, PhD, of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and the MGH Cancer Cancer, updated attendees on efforts to reprogram adult cells into those resembling embryonic stem cells. Pamela Sklar, MD, PhD, of MGH Psychiatry, reviewed current knowledge on the role of genetic variation in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and Emery Brown, MD, PhD, of MGH Anesthesia, described his investigations into the mechanism underlying general anesthesia.

CELEBRATION OF SCIENCE POSTER SESSION: An MGH investigator explains her team's research project.

"The SAC members marveled at the extraordinary research enterprise that has been built at the MGH, especially the truly remarkable gains in cross-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations," says Rosenbaum. "Their recommendations over the years have also guided our efforts to enhance the quality of life for MGH scientists, one result of which is the Office of Research Career Development."

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