May 2018

Using Microscopy and Genetic Analysis to Better Understand Metastasis

Benjamin Martin, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, has received the Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research for his work with circulating tumor cells The award, granted to promising early career New York City-area cancer research scientists, includes a three-year $600,000 grant, effective July 1. Professor Martin and colleague David Q. Matus, PhD, are using state-of-the-art microscopy and genetic analysis of circulating tumor cells to achieve an unprecedented level of understanding about how these cells exit blood vessels and invade news sites on the body. To help accelerate breakthroughs in cancer research, the Pershing Square Research Alliance has invested $25 million in next generation medical research talent. For more about Professor Martin’s cancer research see this recent published paper Science, and his bio and video explanation on his research. For more about the award and recipients, see this press release.

Germination Space: A Place to Think Big

Germination Space:
A Place to Think Big

2018 Call for Participation
An experimental approach to germinate transformative research questions
Issued May 2018

I. Introduction and Program Goals

The emergence of Engineering-Driven Medicine (EDM) has created the opportunity for the integration of engineering, physical sciences, and medicine to develop technologies that will revolutionize healthcare and help to address big, unanswered questions in medicine. Addressing these questions and technological needs in a way that has the potential for substantial and sustained impact will require complex, multiple-faceted solutions which call for innovative, transformative research. The most vital step in pursuing transformative research comes at the formulation of the research questions.
In the meantime, more and more federal, state, and non-profit funding organizations are starting to emphasize the societal and economic impact of academic research through investing in high-impact, transformative research. It becomes ever more important for SUNY researchers to explore methods for effectively formulating research questions, establishing dynamic and engaging research collaborations, and developing innovative research approaches that will increase the competitiveness of SUNY researchers’ proposals and ultimately achieve significant research advancements.
The Germination Space program will provide SUNY researchers with the opportunity to join a group of interdisciplinary peers to formulate and refine transformative research questions through a series of in-person and online interactions. The program aims to support researchers in challenging traditional assumptions; exploring uncharted areas; and germinating high-impact, transformative research questions targeted at major societal challenges.
Germination Space

The Germination Space is an experimental program dedicated to exploring methods for effectively generating research questions – specifically transformative research questions that hold the potential to address significant societal challenges. Whether motivated by curiosity of knowledge or the pursuit of specific solutions, transformative research questions:

  • Tend to be open questions without apparent, definitive answers;
  • Do not set any initial constraints, such as disciplinary boundaries, availability of resources, etc.; and
  • Challenge both stated and hidden assumptions.

The Germination Space will build on a multiple-iteration and cyclical process comprised of formulating, reflecting upon, and redefining research questions.

  • Formulating initial research questions: What motivates the question, and what outcome is expected if the question is answered?
  • Reflecting upon research questions: Challenging both stated and hidden assumptions as well as constraints of the question, and exploring what existing knowledge and technologies can be leveraged.
  • Redefining research questions: Understanding the needs of the key stakeholders and examining if the research question is relevant to a societal challenge. The research question will then be redefined based on information and insights acquired from all three stages.

Through participation in this program, selected researchers will work with interdisciplinary peers to refine their own research questions by identifying and challenging fundamental assumptions and limitations in traditional disciplinary views.

II. Program Details

Commitment
Through a series of live workshops and virtual collaboration, Stony Brook participants will iterate through a cyclical process of question formulation and refinement. Participation in the program requires a commitment to attend all on-campus sessions and complete all remote collaboration work for a given cycle. Participation is open to any Stony Brook University, PI-eligible researcher who can commit to being present on campus for the dates below for Stony Brook University:

Program: September 2018 – December 2018
Workshop A: September 28, 2018
Workshop B: October 19, 2018
Workshop C: November 30, 2018

Based on researchers’ responses to the call for participation (process below), selected researchers will be invited to a series of three on-campus, ideation workshops. As part of this process, the selected researchers will form collaborative research groups. Between workshops, researchers will explore feasibility and refinement via online collaboration. Participation is mandatory for all three on-campus workshops. Participants will generate and refine research questions, subsequently developing collaborative research proposals over the course of the semester and will be expected to provide white paper summaries of the refined proposals shortly after the completion of the final workshop. Seed funding is contingent upon the submission of these white paper summaries.
Seed funding grants of $10,000 each – with funds provided by Stony Brook University– will be provided to each of the collaborative groups to pursue the development of their proposals. Please note that there is a maximum of 5 groups that may be formed among the selected participants. Participants will then be provided support from the Office of Proposal Development to submit formal external proposals within ~12 months of completing the program.

III. Responding to this CFP

This Call for Participation (CFP) seeks to recruit researchers committed to pursuing potentially high-impact, transformative research questions that push traditional disciplinary boundaries. Participants must be willing to constructively contribute to challenging and refining both their own research questions and those of their interdisciplinary peer groups. Researchers from all backgrounds are needed
to address these large questions and all Stony Brook University, PI-eligible researchers are encouraged to apply. Please note that researchers are being asked to apply – and will be considered as – individuals. Please do not submit applications as a group. Collaborative research groups will be formed out from the individual applicants who are selected to participate in this program.

A. Applicants must submit a 1-page narrative, plus cover, as described below. Documentation must be submitted by 5pm, May 21, 2018.

Cover Page – The cover page (one page) must include:

  • Campus name;
  • Name and detailed contact information for the applicant (title, email address, phone number);
  • Brief statement of research expertise; and
  • Statement of commitment to attend all on-campus workshops

Narrative – The submitted narrative (one page) must include three sections:

  1. Clear, brief summary of researcher’s motivation for taking part in the Germination Space program and commitment to participate in full process
  2. Keyword summary of current research interests
  3. Explanation of the researcher’s current research interests and their relevance to the challenges of Engineering-Driven Medicine

Biosketch – The two-page biosketch (NSF format) must include:

  • Name, Job Title, Professional Address, Telephone Number, and E-mail address (*no personal information, e.g., home address, home phone, marital status, etc., should be included);
  • Professional Preparation: A list of individual’s undergraduate and graduate education and postdoctoral training, including institution, location, major/area, degree, and year;
  • Appointments: A list of individual’s academic/professional appointments in reverse chronological order;
  • Publications: A list of up to five recent publications closely related to the proposed areas; and
  • Synergistic Activities: A list of up to five examples of collaborative research activities, and other relevant research achievements.

B. If the response is positive, selected applicants will be invited to take part in the Fall 2018 cycle. Confirmation will be due within 7 days of invitation.

IV. Due Dates
CFP Response Deadline: May 21, 2018, by 5pm. Materials and questions should be submitted via email to Amanda.Baker@suny.edu

Commitment Deadline for invited applicants (notified no later than June 15, 2018): June 22, 2018.

  • After confirming participation, researchers will receive materials to prepare for first workshop by September 1, 2018.
  • Attend Workshop A: September 28, 2018
  • Attend Workshop B: October 19, 2018
  • Attend Workshop C: November 30, 2018

The Germination Space is part of an experimental effort to improve idea generation and refinement, funded by the National Science Foundation (EFRI-1745897/1745891) to Drs. Grace Wang and Phillip Ortiz at SUNY System Administration and Drs. Kemper Lewis and Ryan Muldoon at the University at Buffalo. Project costs are covered by NSF.

Seed funding will be provided by the Stony Brook University Office of the Vice President for Research.

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