Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC)

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STAC Symposium Showcases RI's R&D Capacity, Promotes Expansion of Research Alliance

Published on June 4, 2008

STAC Symposium Showcases RI‚??s R&D Capacity, Promotes Expansion of Statewide Research Alliance

State‚??s scientific leaders meet to discuss research opportunities, funding trends and best practices in collaborative research at STAC Symposium.

On Tuesday, June 3, Dr. Barbara Alving, director of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), joined more than 300 of Rhode Island‚??s research community, policy makers and business leaders at Rhode Island‚??s second annual Collaborative Research Symposium, entitled Emerging Biomedical and Life Sciences Research in Rhode Island. The annual event was launched by the Rhode Island Science and Technology Council (STAC) in 2007 to support the launch of the Rhode Island Research Alliance, a STAC-led program to promote collaboration across the state‚??s research institutions, attract additional federal R&D investment into the state and accelerate Rhode Island‚??s effort to create a knowledge-based innovation economy.

The Symposium was co-sponsored by the Rhode Island Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), the Rhode Island Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), the Rhode Island IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) and the Rhode Island Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE).

The one-day conference offered participants a comprehensive overview of the research and development efforts in Rhode Island‚??s expanding life sciences sector. Speakers and panelists discussed ways that Rhode Island scientists can fully leverage shared tools, resources and talent to create an environment where collaborative research is more common. Participants also learned about national trends in research funding and how collaboration across institutions has become central to many federal funding programs.

The event also featured a poster session from local scientists showcasing projects happening across the state's research community.

Earlier this spring, STAC presented its plans for expanding the Research Alliance and announced that Brown University and the University of Rhode Island both had contributed $25,000 to support the next phase of Research Alliance activity.

The investments from Brown and URI will facilitate the development of an engagement plan that assesses the best opportunities for collaboration among the state‚??s major research organizations and deepens support for the Alliance among participating institutions. The Alliance will also expand its activities to begin assisting with the preparation of collaborative proposals to major funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and support the development and marketing of shared laboratory facilities.

Brown and URI will serve as the first charter members in the Alliance, which will add additional members over the coming months.

Support for accelerating the Alliance‚??s activities was a deciding factor in bringing NCRR Director Alving to Rhode Island as the Symposium‚??s keynote speaker. Dr. Alving has overseen the launch of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program ‚?? a new national consortium of academic health centers that will transform the conduct of clinical and translational research to ensure that biomedical discoveries are rapidly translated into prevention strategies and clinical treatments for rare and common diseases.

‚??Rhode Island was pleased to host Dr. Alving at this year‚??s symposium,‚?Ě says Clyde Briant, Vice President of Research, Brown University and Co-Chair of the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC). ‚??The NCRR has played a vital role in connecting researchers across the U.S. This approach highlights the power of shared resources and collaboration in using research outcomes to improve human health. Rhode Island‚??s research community has learned a lot from this model and is making great strides in increasing our statewide collaborative research and development efforts.‚?Ě

Expansion of the Research Alliance and support for activities that promote greater collaboration across institutions was also designated as an economic development priority in the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation‚??s 2008 Economic Growth Plan. The plan, a roadmap of economic development activities for repositioning Rhode Island‚??s economy and creating more high wage jobs.

‚??Events like this Collaborative Research Symposium are central to building a strong and sustainable statewide Research Alliance that supports Rhode Island‚??s plan for growing more high-wage jobs for Rhode Islanders,‚?Ě says Saul Kaplan, RIEDC executive director and STAC member. ‚??More than 20,000 people are employed in R&D-related positions in Rhode Island, 118 companies are directly engaged in R&D pursuits, and there are many academic and healthcare institutions engaged in research activity. Bringing all the different pieces together in one place is a powerful tool in finding new ways to use our size as a competitive advantage and make collaboration commonplace.‚?Ě

‚??Collaborative research is essential in building our state‚??s research and development capacity,‚?Ě says James Padbury, M.D., Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, COBRE PI / Division Chief, Neonatology. ‚??This symposium not only highlighted the latest trends and best practices in collaborative research, it also gave individual scientists invaluable opportunities to connect with each other and educate themselves about what resources are available right here in Rhode Island.‚?Ě

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