By Wendy Sarubbi | October 14, 2013 12:11 pm

Living the theme of “science has no boundaries or limits,” the UCF College of Medicine is organizing two multidisciplinary research events in October designed to bring together diverse experts to solve humanity’s health issues.

On October 18, the medical school and the UCF College Engineering & Computer Science will hold a “speed dating” research forum, where about 50 scientists and clinicians will learn about each other’s areas of specialty and explore possible partnerships. Participants will hear a series of five-minute presentations on topics ranging from computer-aided diagnostic tools to robotic cardiac surgery with the goal of developing meaningful research projects.

Leveraging partnerships to increase research funding has been a priority for College of Medicine Dean Deborah German, especially as federal funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health push for more collaborative projects linking basic science and clinical needs. Bringing together scientific experts with different points of view can open new doors to solving problems.

“Some of the most exciting advances in modern medicine are supported by engineering and computer science expertise,” agreed Dr. Michael Georgiopoulos, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “This conference is a testament to the emerging synergy between our two colleges. I hope that by sharing our research in an open forum, we can spur new opportunities that will ultimately lead to more breakthroughs and better technologies that benefit society.”

The October 18 event, at the Fairwinds Alumni Center, is one of several collaborative research events the College of Medicine is leading.

On October 28, the medical school is sponsoring a “Building Collaborative Partnerships for Multi-Disciplinary Funded Research” event that will include researchers from across UCF. So far, experts from colleges including Business Administration, Education, Hospitality Management, Health and Public Affairs and Arts and Humanities have signed up.

The goal is to identify areas of partnership that would be relevant to today’s funding agencies and to make researchers aware of UCF colleagues who might have relevant expertise, equipment and other resources to share.

“The importance of these meetings will have long-term consequences,” said Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy, who holds the medical school’s Florida Hospital Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Sciences and has been helping to lead the partnership efforts. “Science has no boundaries or limits, and clinicians and scientists can’t function in isolation. For that reason we are embarking on an effort to encompass every major discipline in our missions of education, research, patient care and service.”

Some of the partnership efforts have already yielded results:

  • Dr. Parthasarathy is teaming with Dr. Yu Yuan in the Chemistry Department of UCF’s College of Sciences to synthesize new chemicals to determine if they are capable of decreasing triglyceride synthesis by liver cells.
  • UCF’s colleges of Medicine and Optics and Photonics are working together to help scientists use light to learn how cells move during normal development and in disease.
  • Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences researcher Dr. Dinender Singla is working with Dr. Angelia Mazza, an endocrinologist at the medical school’s UCF Health, to determine if an anti-inflammatory protein released by stem cells can help treat diabetes. Dr. Singla’s expertise is in the use of injected stem cells to treat diseased hearts and heart disease is a frequent complication for diabetics.  Partnering basic scientists with clinicians broadens the perspectives of both experts, Dr. Singla said, and produces “the kind of collaboration you need for grant funding nowadays. Collaboration helps us all become clinical scientists.”
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