CTSI Retreat Focuses on Sustainability & Innovation

Business leaders Victoria Hale and Jonathan Schwartz in conversation with CTSI Director Clay Johnston
Business leaders Victoria Hale and Jonathan Schwartz in conversation with CTSI Director Clay Johnston
July 27, 2012

The sixth annual Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) retreat, held at the Mission Bay Campus on July 25, 2012, offered an opportunity for more than 250 people from across the UCSF community to focus on CTSI’s successes and challenges, as well as its evolution toward greater independence amidst a changing funding environment.

“When you have this many smart people in one room it’s amazing what new ideas emerge,” said Catherine Lucey, MD, the UCSF School of Medicine’s vice dean for education who participated in a retreat panel discussion on disruptive innovation.

Ideas and discussion topics were wide ranging, including a challenge from special guest Victoria Hale, CEO and founder of Medicines360, and founder and chair emeritus of One World Health. “In our resource-limited world, only a select number of organizations are going to thrive,” said Hale, who is also a member of CTSI’s External Advisory Board. “How do we move beyond traditional for-profit or non-profit business models? How do we think differently?”

For many, the event also offered an opportunity to better understand the wide range of activities CTSI is involved in to support all types of research, and researchers, at UCSF.

Talmadge King, MD, Chair of UCSF’s Department of Medicine, with Bill Balke, MD, Director of CTSI's CRS program (background)
Talmadge King, MD, Chair of UCSF’s Department of Medicine, with Bill Balke, MD, Director of CTSI's CRS program (background)

“The important thing for me was just to learn more about CTSI and see the progress that’s been made,” said Talmadge King, MD, chair of UCSF’s Department of Medicine. “CTSI is accomplishing the things that it’s designed to accomplish, and I would like to see the effort made to provide it with a sustainable financial solution so they can continue to do the work they need to do.”

The diverse audience included faculty and staff, campus leaders, representatives from all four schools, and CTSI partners, as well as a representative from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“It’s good seeing all types of scientists, the community, and all the different schools represented, and not just talking about where we’ve been, but really focusing on where it is we want to go and how we’re going to put all of the pieces together,” said David Vlahov, RN, PhD, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing.

Retreat activities included:

  • CTSIAn Evolving Organization (Video 20:08): The opening presentation by CTSI Director Clay Johnston, MD, PhD, focused on the underlying themes of sustainability; the value of partnerships, innovation, and measuring success as CTSI diversifies its funding strategy; and how to better meet the needs of diverse customers, or users of CTSI services.
  • Business Transformations (Video 42:31): A conversation moderated by Clay Johnston included insights from business experts Jonathan Schwartz, CEO & Co-founder of Carezone and former CEO & President of Sun Microsystems; and Victoria Hale. Lively discussion revolved around the importance of staying focused on the organization’s mission. Schwartz spoke about how challenges and change create opportunity, and cautioned that revenue generation is not CTSI’s mission. Hale encouraged creative thinking about alternative or hybrid business models.
  • More Than the Sum of its Parts – Leveraging the UC Network (Video 10:06): CTSI Assistant Director for Strategic Initiatives Rachael Sak, RN, MPH, provided an overview of UC BRAID, a partnership between UC’s five biomedical campuses that is seeking to identify policy changes and areas of collaboration to accelerate biomedical research across the UC system.
    Small group discussion
    One of 20 small groups that offered ideas for future CTSI initiatives.
  • Accelerating Research at UCSF – Current Initiatives & New Ideas (Video 41:15): Leslie Yuan, MPH, director of the Virtual Home program, led audience members in reviewing CTSI successes and asked each group to choose one initiative to focus on for further discussion. Groups identified beneficiaries, types of impact, and ideas for sustainability. Of the 20 ideas, several were chosen for discussion among the larger group in a session moderated by Kevin Grumbach, MD, that included several CTSI leaders. Ideas included: connecting SF HIP to personal technologies; tailoring programs to ‘balanced surgeons’; creating a non-profit to support Early Translational Research; expanding online education opportunities; adding public health researchers in San Francisco to UCSF Profiles; and leveraging electronic medical records to support research.
  • The Future of CTSI at USCF (Video 14:00): A video message from UCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann MD, MPH, included a direct message for the audience, plus an excerpt from an interview in which Clay Johnston. View the excerpt below:

  • Disruptive Innovation in Translational Research: CTSI Deputy Director Mini Kahlon, PhD, moderated a conversation with Jeff Bluestone, PhD, UCSF provost and executive vice chancellor; Catherine Lucey, MD, vice dean for education in the School of Medicine; and Deborah Grady, MD, co-director of CTSI. Panelists and audiences members discussed the importance of collaboration, and ideas emerged regarding taking the first steps toward building greater trust and partnership among the research community. Jeff Bluestone referenced UCSF Open Proposals as one potential mechanism to help support this effort.

“I think the need for events like this was really exemplified by the day’s final statements regarding breaking down silos, encouraging collaboration, and figuring out ways to build trust,” said Julie Auger, executive director of UCSF’s Research Resources Program. “The only way to do that is by bringing people together and talking about things that are of common interest.”

Other comments from the day:

“CTSI continues to innovate not only in what they do day-to-day, but I thought the retreat included a lot of innovative ways to engage the audience.” – Tuhin Sinha, PhD, associate director of strategic development at UCSF’s Office of Innovation, Technology, and Alliances.

(From left) Catherine Lucey, MD, Vice Dean of Medical Education for the School of Medicine; with Helen Loeser, MD, MSc, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics Associate Dean, Curricular Affairs; and Karen Hamblett, Academic Program Manager, Center for Innovation in Interprofessional Education
(From left) Catherine Lucey, MD, Vice Dean of Medical Education, SOM; with Helen Loeser, MD, MSc, Professor of Pediatrics & Associate Dean, Curricular Affairs; & Karen Hamblett, Academic Program Mgr., Center for Innovation in Interprofessional Education.

“It’s important to take time out of our busy schedules, and to step back to really think more broadly about CTSI and how what it’s doing fits in at UCSF.” – Janet Coffman, MAA, MPP, PhD, associate adjunct professor at UCSF’s Institute for Health Policy Studies.

“Excellent from the word go. I think the real key is how CTSI is going to evolve, and I think there’s a pearl in there somewhere.” – Arthur Miller, PhD, professor in the UCSF School of Dentistry.

“I think it was a useful opportunity for all stakeholders at the University to see the value of the work CTSI is doing. The discussions, especially about hybrid business models, were valuable in bringing out different perspectives.” – Mario Moreno, MBA, administrative director for the Pediatric Clinical Research Center and Neonatal Clinical Research Center in CTSI’s Clinical Research Services program.

An overview of CTSI highlights, milestones, and challenges during the last year is available on a publicly-available Annual Progress Report prepared for the NIH. Also, a recap of live tweets from the event is available on CTSI’s BioMed2.0 blog, and retreat presentations can be found here.

UCSF's CTSI is a member of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards network funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (Grant Number UL1 TR000004). Under the banner of Accelerating Research to Improve Health, the Institute provides a wide range of services for researchers, and promotes online collaboration and networking tools such as UCSF Profiles.

Photos: Cindy Chew