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CMI Annual Research & Innovation Summit 2019 – CMI Impact

On August 26, the Comparative Medicine Institute held its Annual Research & Innovation Summit in the Talley Center.

The all day event began with a welcome and state-of-the-institute address by the CMI Director, Jorge Piedrahita.  The overall theme of the day was CMI Impact.  The morning agenda included program summaries from each of the Associate Directors, Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, Dr. Joshua Pierce, Dr. Binil Starly, Dr. Anthony Blikslager and Dr. Scott Laster.  Program presenters included full member: Dr. Matthew Fisher, associate members: Jessica Gilbertie and Ashlyn Young, private industry: Sean Ekins-Collaborations Pharmaceuticals and undergraduate: Loulou Batta who had received support and were directly effected by the CMI.  The Translational Pharmacology and Physiology Program introduced the three new centers, Center for Food Allergy Modeling in Pigs (CFAMP) presented by Dr. Tobias Kaeser, Comparative Pain Research & Education Center (CPREC) presented by Dr. Margaret Gruen, and NC State Center for Comparative Gastroenterology (NC2CG) presented by Dr. Anthony Blikslager that were established this year and will further extend the impact of the CMI.

After lunch, Dr. Scott Laster, Dr. Paul Hamilton and Dr. Wade Fulghum presented how the CMI is developing a hub of entrepreneurship through an extended version of the Business and Medicine (BaM 2.0) Program.  The Masters of Microbial Biotechnology Program students serve as a business consultants for one month.  They address questions of need, uniqueness, marketability and fundability.   After the BaM projects are completed, investigators may work with the Office of Research and Commercialization through the I-Corps Program that will help researchers transition their ideas and inventions into the market place through a National Science Foundation Program.

Dr. Eleanor Hawkins updated the crowd on the Clinical Studies Core and how it is expanding it’s services to reach more investigators.  She also introduced the New Faculty Clinical Research Award that was established this year.  Two were awarded this year – one to Dr. Margaret Gruen and one to Dr. Michael Sano & Dr. Callie Fogle.  Dr. Sano presented Dr. Fogle and his research on “Treating Large Skin Melanomas in Horses with Electroporation.”

After the Clinical Science Core presentation, CMI had two discussion panels.  A faculty panel that included Dr. Ashley Brown, Dr. Scott Laster and Dr. Lauren Schnabel that gave the crowd the opportunity to not only hear about the influence CMI had on the investigators’ research but to interact with the crowd as members had the opportunity for a question/answer session.  This was followed by a panel of associate members (Camilo Navarro, Kaylib Robinson and Morika Williams) that was moderated by Associate Member Representative, Kathryn Polkoff.  This truly showed the “Perspective from the Up-and-Coming” as the session was titled.

The two discussion panels were followed by CMI Partner.  Associate Vice Chancellor Jon Horowitz introduced Michelle Maclay, Director of Community and Partner Relations, and Susan Pusek, Director of Education and Training from University of North Carolina (UNC), North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS) as well as Hernan Navarro Director of the Gold Leaf Foundation Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) from North Carolina Central University.

The oral presentations finished with presentations from two teams of summer undergraduate research students and their associate member mentors.  One was from last year, Ariana Frey and her mentors Greer Arthur and Emily Wrona Ozpinar.  Ariana was a SIRI student in 2018 and she was able to present all of the direct influence that this summer research has had on her career trajectory and the numerous awards she has received throughout the year.  The final formal presentation was by 2019 SIRI student Maggie Flanders and her mentor Michaela Copp.  Michaela and Maggie, both, reflected on the growth that they both made over this past summer through the mentor/student relationship and Maggie had the opportunity to presented her summer research.

Throughout the day, twenty-seven posters lined the walls of the Piedmont Mountains Ballroom displaying research from all of the grants funded by CMI this past year.  The sixteen Summer Interdisciplinary Research Initiative (SIRI) undergraduate students competed in a poster competition for three prizes.  Ben Stemen won first prize of $150 for his poster entitled “Efforts Towards the Total Synthesis of Synoxazolidinone C.”  Emma West won second prize of $100 for her poster entitled “Genetically-inducing ACL Aplasia with CRISPR/Cas-9.” A tie for third prize gave $50 to both Cody Helms for his poster on “Nanocarrier Optimization for Mast-Cell Targeting Drug Delivery in an Enhanced Permeability and Retention (EPR) Model” and April Gonzalez for “Engineering Biomimetic Microvessels for Pre-vascularizing Tissue Constructs”.  The posters were independently judged and Provost Warwick Arden and Dean Paul Lunn (College of Veterinary Medicine) presented the awards at the end of the program.

The day ended with a collaboration reception celebrating the accomplishments of the past year and working on forming new partnerships in research for the future.