“Merging science and medicine is the best thing we have done as a species.” This was the core message of the keynote address by Dr. Barry S. Coller at the annual Physician-Scientist Career Development Colloquium and Medical/Dental Student Research Day on March 10. Before an audience of faculty, residents/fellows, MD-PhD students, and medical and dental students who undertook summer research projects, Coller extolled the virtues of medical research and impressed upon the audience the importance of the research that is done at academic medical centers like the University of Connecticut.
Every year, UConn Health’s Office of Physician-Scientist Career Development (OPSCD) invites a physician-scientist of national renown to be featured in the colloquium and interact with members of the UConn community.
“Hosting accomplished physician-scientists is an ideal way to enhance career development of our physician-scientist trainees and junior faculty, helps senior faculty in our mentoring roles, and we are so pleased to have Dr. Coller as the keynote speaker for 2014,” explains Dr. Andrew Arnold, director of the Office of Physician-Scientist Career Development. “Exposure to a role model like Dr. Coller allows our trainees and junior investigators to learn from his experiences and gain new perspectives on science, medicine, and negotiating career challenges.”
This year, OPSCD was pleased to partner with Medical/Dental Student Research Day and its leaders, Joan Caron and Arthur Hand, with Coller addressing the dozens of medical and dental students who dedicated the summer of 2013 to mentored research projects.
Coller is the David Rockefeller Professor of Medicine, physician-in-chief, and vice president for medical affairs at The Rockefeller University. A nationally-prominent hematologist, Coller is a tireless advocate for the importance of translational research, or research that is focused on bringing scientific advances from the laboratory and “translating” them into new advances in patient care. Coller is the author of seminal studies on platelet biology and one of the creators of abciximab, a pioneering drug for the treatment of clotting disorders.
For the medical and dental students in the audience, his message was especially poignant, as it was a patient he cared for as a fourth-year medical student who inspired him to launch his scientific career.
Coller spoke at length on the mission of the academic medical center. In the classic view, the academic medical center is not unlike a three-legged stool, supported by the pillars of research, patient care, and education. To Coller, this shorts the important role for research in all aspects of medicine. His view of the academic medical center is of a “four-legged stool with a cushion” where the cushion of research overlays the pillars of patient care, education, community service, and global health, and that rigorous scientific approaches should be taken to advance all these pillars.
In addition to his keynote address, Coller spent the day meeting with members of the UConn Health community, from senior leaders to an informal lunch with students from the MD/PhD Program.
Alex Adami, an MD-PhD student and one of the student organizers of the colloquium, noted the enthusiasm these meetings produced. “When I would arrive to escort Dr. Coller to his next appointment, I had quite the time bringing his current one to a close; no one was ready to stop talking.”
Planning for the next colloquium is already underway; watch for broadcast announcements and check the OPSCD website for more details.