By Wendy Sarubbi | October 24, 2013 12:44 pm

Medical, engineering and computer scientists met October 18 in a “speed dating” event designed to develop more collaborative research that will improve healthcare for all. About 60 scientists and clinicians learned about each other’s research specialties and discussed opportunities for collaborative research into areas including:

  • Engineering micro/nano particles for more effective delivery of drugs
  • Computerized training for neurosurgeons
  • Assessments of conventional vs. robotic cardiac surgery
  • Using engineering to improve heart valves and determine blockages to blood flow in pediatric heart patients
  • The use of game technology for better teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) content to diverse students

The speed dating event was a brainchild of Deans Michael Georgiopoulos, of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Deborah German, of the College of Medicine. In opening the networking event, Dr. German described extraordinary research as a cornerstone of a top tier medical school in an emerging Medical City. To compete with the nation’s more established medical schools, UCF must grow its research mission by developing innovative collaborations to “partner with the excellence that’s already here,” she said.

During the session, about 40 researchers made five-minute presentations of their work. All of the researchers in the audience had an individual card for each presenter. When the presentation was over, audience members who had a collaborative idea held up the presenter’s card with their own name on it and idea. The cards were collected and a spread sheet is being created of possible partnerships. Based on the ideas, the UCF Office of Research and Commercialization will look for funding opportunities.

Leveraging partnerships to increase research funding has been a priority for the College of Medicine as federal funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health push for more collaborative projects linking basic science and clinical needs. “Speed dating” participants said they hope the recent “meeting of the minds” will bring together experts with different points of view to solve humanity’s healthcare issues.

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