Celebrating a New Era of Science at BWH
A highlight of the eighth annual Research Report and Celebration was the announcement of the new Brigham and Women's Hospital Biomedical Research Institute (BWH-BRI). The event also included welcoming remarks on the important contributions of research to BWH by President Gary Gottlieb, MD, MBA, a state of the enterprise presentation, and an awards presentation.
State of the Research Enterprise
Senior Vice President for Research Barbara Bierer, MD, shared with the audience the status of research at BWH, which continued to flourish in fiscal year 2004 (FY 04). As a hospital grantee, BWH remains a leading recipient of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), second only to its sister organization, Massachusetts General Hospital. NIH continues to be BWH's largest research sponsor, providing 61 percent of all investigative funding.
In order to carry out its research mission, BWH Research employs approximately 2,300 staff members, including more than 800 research fellows. Additionally, the total expenditures for the research mission were nearly $363 million in FY 04, representing a compounded annual growth rate of approximately 10 percent over the last ten years.
Bierer explained that, like other hospital disciplines, the research community continues to assess solutions to ongoing space challenges for the hospital's scientific community.
Michael Brenner, MD, chair of the Research Council and co-chair of the Research Institute Steering Committee, gave an overview of BWH-BRI. Brenner explained that the institute, nearly 18 months in planning, will “establish opportunities to develop and strengthen interdisciplinary affinity groups, research career paths and fundraising.”
“We bring science to medicine,” said Cynthia Morton, PhD, who followed Brenner to provide context for the unique opportunities presented by BWH-BRI to BWH's many talented researchers.
“BWH is different because of its ability to focus on patients and clinical research,” said Dr. Gordon Williams. “Our novel research is still generated by the intellectual curiosity of individual researchers, but BWH-BRI provides thesupport and infrastructure for the hospital and patients to gain most benefit from such research,” he added.
Dr. Elliott Kieff explained that the interdisciplinary research of the BWH-BRI will mirror the five Centers of Excellence that exists in the hospital's strategic plan-Cancer, Cardiovascular Services, Neurosciences, Orthopedics and Arthritis and Women's Health-in addition to other select areas of concentration.
The institute will appoint three rotating directors, serving three years in each role, for seamless leadership transitions. Dr. Thomas Kupper also described the committees that will assist with BWH-BRI decision making and oversight. And, to promote two-way communication with researchers, the institute will establish a research faculty forum to include broad representation from the full research community.
Speizer Receives High Honor
Another highlight of the event was the announcement of this year's McArthur Research Service Award. The award, supported by the Susan, Katarina and Isabella McArthur Radovsky Endowment Fund, is presented annually to a member or members of the BWH Research faculty who exemplify the spirit of community by volunteering time and effort to the research organization. The 2005 McArthur Award was presented to Frank Speizer, MD (pictured), co-director of BWH's Channing Lab and creator of the BWH's landmark Nurses' Health Study. “Frank's mentorship and contributions to research at BWH far exceed the walls of the Channing Lab,” said Brenner, who commended Speizer's generous contributions to lead and serve on many key BWH research committees, which exemplify the tenets of the award.
Awarding Length of Service
Ten researchers were then honored for serving BWH for more than 20 years. Those recognized at the event included Howard Hiatt, MD, Professor of Medicine (40 years); Nicholas Tilney, MD, Francis D. Moore Professor of Surgery (40 years); Richard Stevens, PhD, Professor of Medicine (25 years); Walter Willett, DrPH, Dr.Phil., MD, Professor of Medicine (25 years); and Richard Maas, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine (20 years). Others who have provided more than 20 years of service to BWH Research include Donald Ingber, MD, PhD (20); David Demaso, MD (20); James Taylor, MD (25); Rebekah Taube, MA (30); and Jocelyn Spragg, PhD (35).
The event also recognized a key behind-the-scenes contributor to the Research
Council-Debbie Slater, administrative director. “Debbie has been the heart and soul of the Research Council since its inception. She is the institutional memory of research and I doubt any one person fully understands her contributions, as they are so numerous,” said Brenner. The presentation of Research achievements and upcoming initiatives closed with a celebratory reception in the Cabot Atrium.