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Journal of Investigative Medicine:
doi: 10.231/JIM.0b013e318259ad9a
EB Symposium Manuscripts

EB Symposium Introduction: Productive Translational Research: Tools for Connecting Research Cultures and Managing Conflict

Bennett, L. Michelle PhD; Gadlin, Howard PhD; Morrison, Catherine JD; Zucker, Deborah MD, PhD

Free Access

This series is based on presentations at the American Federation for Medical Research-Translational Medical Research Career Development Workshop, which was held at the 2010 Experimental Biology meeting in Anaheim, CA. Below is the opening discussion case presented to workshop participants.

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Dr. Ally - Background

Dr. Ally is a Caucasian-American, recently tenured professor and physician scientist at Acme University. Dr. A’s laboratory employs 4 postdoctoral fellows and 10 research technicians and associates in her large laboratory. She has always been committed to weekly lab meetings with her lab members and collaborators, but since she secured tenure, she has found it harder and harder to make the time to meet regularly.

Dr. Ally travels frequently to speaking engagements at conferences and universities, serves on a National Institutes of Health study section, and is a senior officer in a national research organization. She has an outgoing personality and is very intuitive in her approach and skilled at getting people to do things for her. She relies on her senior trainees and research associates to manage the day-to-day operations of her laboratory. Dr. Ally visits her laboratory on a regular basis to review research and chair planning meetings. She is currently well funded with several grants from various organizations.

Dr. Ally has worked for several years on the development of a new highly effective statin that reduces cholesterol and significantly reverses atherosclerosis with minimal side effects. The drug has been tested in animals and the results look promising. Dr. Ally and her research team now want to begin clinical trials.

One year ago, Dr. Ally became involved with an industry start-up company with an interest developing a product line of pharmaceuticals that provide multiple benefits to patients with chronic illness. They believe that Dr. A’s new agent has strong market potential for Type II diabetics and others with hypertension.

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Dr. Bond - Background

Dr. Bond is a South Asian, postdoctoral fellow in Dr. A’s laboratory. Dr. Bond has been a post-doctoral for 2 1/2 years while other post-doctoral fellows have been in Dr. A’s laboratory for more than 4 years. Even though he has spent less time as a post-doctoral fellow, he feels ready to pursue independent research in an academic setting and hopes to secure grant funding that will enable him to start his own laboratory in the near future. An outstanding letter of recommendation from Dr. Ally will be critical to secure this competitive award.

Dr. Bond has played an active role in the development of this new statin. Dr. Ally and Dr. Bond have collaborated on several papers about the drug. It was Dr. Bond who discovered that one specific formulation under development in their laboratory showed the greatest potential for reversing atherosclerosis. He is currently writing a paper with Dr. Ally on the interaction that produces this result. Although Dr. Bond has not discussed this with Dr A, he is confident that his level of contribution to this paper will result in his being named not only as first author but corresponding author as well. He thinks that this paper will serve as a positive conclusion to his fellowship.

Dr. Bond’s proposed research to further explore the interaction he discovered will require use of the reagent he developed in Dr. Ally’s laboratory. Dr. Ally has suggested several times that Dr. Bond continue his good work as an employee at the company with which she is involved and has assured Dr. Bond that her good relationship with the company could help him attain a position there.

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Dr. Chase - Background

Dr. Chase is a senior tenured professor and a clinician researcher at Acme University. Dr. Ally recently approached to discuss the possibility of their collaboration on the clinical trials of the new statin developed in Dr. A’s laboratory. Dr. C’s practice includes a large number of Type II diabetic patients with high cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Dr. Chase and his staff would need to find and recruit a sufficient number of these patients for the clinical trial. This will be a first in human trial. Dr. Chase is interested in the concept of the proposed study based on the data and information presented to Dr. Chase by Dr. A. However, because Dr. Ally has very little experience with clinical trials and he is dubious about her expertise, he is wary of collaborating with her. In addition, Dr. Ally seems to be an expert in self-promotion, which also causes him concern. In spite of these concerns, because the proposed project is potentially very important he agrees to explore the possibility of working with Dr. Ally.

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Dr. Day - Background

Dr. Day is a tenure track assistant professor and biostatistician from Eastern Europe. She is well regarded for her ability to determine sampling and data collection methodologies. Dr. Chase met with Dr. Day and asked if she would be interested in assisting with monitoring the execution of the new statin clinical trial and providing advice on the strengths and limitations of the design and should they get to that point, the results. Since Dr. Chase arrived at Acme, Dr. Chase and Dr. Day have collaborated on a number of clinical trials. They have a history of working well together. Dr. Chase enjoys Dr. Day’s direct style of communication and sense of humor.

Copyright © 2012 by the American Federation for Medical Research.