May 8, 2017

‘Science Cafes’ spark collaborative research

Dr. Cato Laurencin, CEO, Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science at UConn

The ovarian cancer treatment research Dr. Pramod Srivastava is doing at UConn Health represents the kind of collaboration and convergence of scientists that the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science at UConn (CICATS) supports and which it believes can advance new ways of thinking and discoveries.

It's one reason CICATS has helped fund Srivastava's research using a new technology for a vaccine that harnesses a patient's immune system to help fight cancer, said Dr. Cato Laurencin, CEO of CICATS and Van Dusen distinguished professor of orthopedic surgery.

To help promote cross collaboration and convergence, CICATS in late-2014 launched a Science Cafe program, essentially networking events to help bring scientists together from UConn Health, and across and outside the university to share ideas, collaborate and connect in an informal setting. The Oxnard, Calif.-based Kavli Foundation, which focuses on advancing science and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work, donated $10,000 to start the cafes and recently gave another $25,000 for the cafes based on their early success.

CICATS believes the future in science is collaboration to generate new ideas, and, beyond that, convergence, which is bringing together not only people who are like-minded and work in the same area, but people who are in disparate areas and pursue science in different ways to create new ways of thinking to solve problems, Laurencin explained.

Starting this summer the cafes, which CICATS hopes to hold about once a month or so, will have an even greater emphasis on bringing people across different disciplines together and across different ways of thinking "to make good things happen," Laurencin said.

Science Cafe participants focus on today's most pressing scientific and medical concerns, including obesity, cancer control and prevention, and cardiovascular disease, according to UConn. Those are among some of the topics discussed within CICATS' core interest groups, one of which, the personalized immunotherapy group, is led by Srivastava.

CICATS looks forward to continued development of Srivastava's research and helping him fulfill his dream and those of others interested in transdisciplinary collaborative research, Laurencin said.

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