The WDOM’s 6th Annual Research Retreat Day attracted a record number of young investigators, trainees, and residents. Lectures were provided by WDOM faculty and keynote speaker, Dr. Drew Weissman, who played a major role in critical discoveries that allowed for the mRNA platform to be used in developing vaccines against SARS-CoV.
Held on October 29, 2021, the day’s proceedings began at the Belfer Research Building where opening remarks were given by Dr. Tony Hollenberg, Chair, WDOM; Dr. John P. Leonard, Executive Vice Chair, WDOM; and Dr. Steven Lipkin, Vice Chair for Research, WDOM. The event, which hosted 40 participants in person and 100 via zoom, included 10 lectures given by WDOM faculty and 80 poster presentations contributed by junior faulty, postdoctoral students, graduate students, and research technicians. Featured lecturers spanned topics in the areas of pulmonary and critical care medicine, hematology and oncology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, global health, infectious diseases, community-based medicine, and more.
Following presentations from WDOM faculty, keynote speaker, Dr. Weissman, delivered an illuminating lecture on nucleoside-modified mRNA-LNP therapeutics in the Weill Auditorium. The Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Weissman leads a laboratory that is focused on the study of RNA and innate immune system biology and the application of these findings to vaccine research and gene therapy. With recent publications, such as “mRNA Vaccines for Infectious Diseases: Principles, Delivery and Clinical Translation,” National Reviews Drug Discovery, his keynote lecture on mRNA-LNP therapeutics was ideally timed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were thrilled to host Dr. Weissman, who, together with Dr. Katalin Kariko, has furthered critical discoveries on the mRNA platform utilized to develop vaccines against SARS-CoV2,” said Dr. Hollenberg. “In addition, it was an exciting day for all of us as we celebrated the outstanding variety of research that defines the WDOM. Since 2017, our research grant portfolio has more than doubled and, just as importantly, our department features 32 faculty members who are on career development awards from the NIH. Many others have similar awards from foundations or internal programs, such as Fund for the Future or Jumpstart. This growth will allow the department to continue to make outstanding contributions to meet unmet medical needs in everything we do.”
Research Retreat Day, which was launched by Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, former Chair of the WDOM and now the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, exemplifies the wide variety of research that defines the WDOM. Attracting more and more attendees each year, the day serves as a valuable forum where senior and junior faculty can exchange ideas as they look to the future. Another key component of the day involves the WDOM’s focus on developing its next generation of researchers. To that end, the day concluded with a discussion led by Dr. Hollenberg and Dr. Weissman devoted to career development objectives.
The WDOM expresses its sincerest thanks to all leadership, participants, and attendees at the 6th Annual Research Retreat, as well as to Kristen Brady, Associate Director of Research Administration, WDOM, who organized the event.