This year's Summit will consider the intersection of microbes and our food supply, with eminent thinkers and community partners presenting a wide range of perspectives. The agenda for the first, on-campus day will include cutting-edge research and policy perspectives. The second day will focus on practical applications and will be held at the Landscape Arboretum.
The Consortium conducts original research, serves students and faculty, and advances public dialogue and understanding on emerging issues at the intersection of science and society.
Consortium collaborator Pamala Jacobson, PharmD, FCCP, has been named a Distinguished Professor under the Pharmacy Scholars program. Prof. Jacobson's appointment grants her the "Distinguished Professor" title and $10,000 a year salary augmentation for a five-year period. The principal criteria for the award are the duration and significance of the person's contributions to the development of his/her discipline, and the impact of the person's scholarly endeavors on a national and international level. Prof. Jacobson is a renowned clinician, scientist, and national leader in clinical pharmacology. In her pharmacogenomics research program, she studies how to effectively use genetic and other biomarkers to improve drug efficacy and reduce toxicity. She has been a leader in the emerging field of precision medicine, serving as director of the University's Institute of Personalized Medicine and as one of four Principal Investigators of the Minnesota Precision Medicine Collaborative (MPMC), along with Consortium Chair Susan M. Wolf, JD; Ellen Demerath, PhD; and Kingshuk Sinha, PhD. You can view video of her commentary on Rex Chisholm's 2015 lecture, "Integrating Electronic Health Records and Genomics for Discovery and Implementation: The eMERGE Experience," which was sponsored by the Consortium, here.
An article in The Conversation poses an urgent question: In light of declining federal support, is it time for a new funding model for scientific research in higher education? The answer, according to University of Minnesota Vice President for Research Brian Herman and Claudia Neuhauser, Associate Vice President for Research, is a resounding yes: "The hard fact is that there’s just not enough R&D money available to support the higher ed research capabilities our country has built." The dilemma, however, is that despite efforts to diversify funding sources to include business, philanthropy and other nonprofits, those types of partners rarely subsidize the basic research that "provides the necessary foundation for many of the products and services that contribute to the nation’s wealth." Herman and Neuhauser explore several solutions, including closer collaboration between research universities and radically redefining the "shared value" of research and development to both academic and private enterprise. Read the entire article here.
Recent research looked at how patient care may be affected by a doctor's political leanings, at least regarding some controversial issues like abortion or firearm safety. An article from the Associated Press explains the methodology of the study, in which Yale University researchers surveyed voter registration records of 20,000 primary care physicians to link them to their party affiliation. The study's authors then surveyed 200 of those doctors about how they'd react to health issues that might come up during a routine physical. Bioethicist Nancy Berlinger of the nonpartisan Hastings Center, who wasn't part of the study, said "this was really an eye-opener," noting these results shed light on implicit bias; when it comes to deeply partisan divides, doctors "can't screen that out just like the rest of us can't screen it out."
Three scientists have been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on designing tiny machines "a thousand times thinner than a strand of hair," according to the BBC. Jean-Pierre Sauvage (Strasbourg University), Fraser Stoddart (Northwestern University) and Bernard Feringa (University of Groningen) will share the prize, which is worth approximately $930,000. Nanotechnology – "the creation of structures on the scale of a nanometer, or a billionth of a meter," as described in the New York Times – could be used to precisely deliver pharmaceuticals within the human body and may lead to entirely new therapeutic approaches. Consortium Chair Susan M. Wolf has led significant efforts, funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, to determine the best way to protect human beings who participate in nanotechnology research. Two major symposia evaluated oversight models using a historical and comparative approach and produced the first systematic, comprehensive recommendations on how to protect human participants in nanotech research. To see all the Consortium's work on nanotechnology, click here.