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  November 18, 2002

Donaghue Grant Recipients To Share
Ongoing Medical Research With Public
By Pat Keefe

Health Center faculty working on research projects funded by the Donaghue Foundation will be taking their work public under a new program that will start the first of next year.

The lecture series is designed as an innovative method of informing the public about public health research and how that research contributes to medical advances.

It will provide information about research to a broader audience than the usual academic or peer-review groups. The specific target is members of the public who have an interest in science and medical research. The series is intended to last for two years, with six or so lectures per year.

Most of the speakers will be Health Center faculty, but Wesleyan University faculty who have projects funded by the foundation will also speak in the series.

"I think it's a great idea," says Dr. Michael Grey, associate dean of continuing education at the Health Center. "It's designed to be an innovative lecture series that's accessible to the general public. It builds on our experience with public lectures - such as our clinical information program, The Discovery Series, or our educational program, Mini-Medical School. These lectures will focus on research and how that research gets to the patient's bedside."

Dr. Grey said the lectures will not be "done deals," that is, talks about research projects that have concluded. They will discuss work that is still evolving.

"These will be 'Works in Progress'," he says, "or really, 'Research in Progress'. We don't necessarily mean to tie it up for the public, we're interested in explaining to them how research works, including the process, and taking them from concept, through investigation, to ultimately end up at the bedside."

Lynne Garner, director of program development and evaluation for the Donaghue Foundation, says the program also will help faculty think about their work in non-scientific or non-specialized terms the public will understand.

"The Donaghue Foundation's central theme is medical research with practical benefit to humans," she says. "A hallmark of that is to have information get out to different audiences. We challenged investigators and ourselves to think of innovative ways to get information about this very exciting work to people. Part of the challenge was for faculty to explain their work to people who are not part of their everyday peer group."

Kevin Claffey, an assistant professor of physiology at the Center for Vascular Biology, is one of the foundation's newest grant recipients under the Donaghue Investigator Program for Health-Related Research. He joins 20 other faculty from around the state since 1998 who have received $100,000 a year for five years from the foundation to sustain their research program. Other UConn participants and the years they received their award include:

  • Dr. Stephen Helfand, associate professor, genetics and developmental biology, 1999;
  • Sandra Hewett, assistant professor, neuroscience, 2000;
  • Stephen King, associate professor, biochemistry, 2000;
  • Nancy Petry, assistant professor, psychiatry, 2000;
  • Dr. Carol Pilbeam, associate professor, internal medicine, 2001;
  • Robert Reenan, assistant professor, genetics and developmental biology, 2001.

The Patrick & Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation is a charitable trust in West Hartford that is dedicated to furthering the search for medical knowledge of practical benefit to human life. The foundation focuses on initiatives in the state to strengthen research on health issues, to promote future research leadership, and to put new knowledge to work for public benefit.

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