June 27, 2023

Team Action for Scientific Solutions: Brain Tumor Research in Progress

Written by

Satoru Osuka, M.D., Ph.D.Satoru Osuka, M.D., Ph.D.In science, collaboration is about sharing information, resources, and ideas. The partnership allows faculty to combine their knowledge and resources to form new ideas that might not have been possible by working alone, which leads to better results for everyone involved.

Several groups across the Heersink School of Medicine come together regularly to promote team science in their respective areas of expertise. The Office of Research for the Heersink School of Medicine will highlight the work of these groups in its Team Action for Scientific Solutions (TASS) series.

In this article, Jianmei Leavenworth, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and Department of Microbiology, and Satoru Osuka, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, introduce the Brain Tumor Research in Progress Forum.

“In 2013, Dr. Anita Hjelmeland established this program based on recommendations from T32 trainees and faculty preceptors of the training program in Brain Tumor Biology led by Dr. Etty Benveniste as the program director,” said Osuka. “The primary objective of this meeting is to create a platform for trainees and faculty members to present their research proposals and experimental findings.”

Attendance is open to all individuals working in the participating laboratories. Over the past decade, this program has significantly fostered interaction among trainees and promoted interdisciplinary discussions.

The Heersink School of Medicine communications staff sat with Drs. Jianmei Leavenworth and Satoru Osuka to gain insight into this program.

Jianmei Leavenworth M.D., Ph.D.Jianmei Leavenworth M.D., Ph.D.Q: What is Brain Tumor Research in Progress?
The Brain Tumor Research in Progress (BRAIN TRIP) is a monthly one-hour research gathering on the fourth Friday of every month. This event serves as a platform primarily dedicated to showcasing the ongoing research of two junior researchers, mainly predoctoral or postdoctoral trainees. In special sessions, distinguished guest speakers from within and outside the institution are invited to provide enlightening lectures. While the primary audience comprises researchers and clinicians actively engaged in brain tumor research, other researchers with a keen interest in this domain also actively participate. Over time, the number of attendees has steadily increased, reaching an impressive count of nearly 40 individuals.

Q: How did you become involved in this area?
Since joining the UAB faculty, we have actively engaged in brain tumor research and have consistently participated in the BRAIN TRIP meeting. As of 2021, Dr. Osuka and I have taken on the co-director role for this program.

Q: What activities are offered in this program?
The meeting offers an opportunity for students, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers to gain valuable experience in presenting their research proposals and sharing the outcomes of their research endeavors, primarily focusing on unpublished data. The discussion following the presentations allows faculty members not directly involved in the research project to provide valuable advice and constructive criticism. The guidance and feedback from the faculty and other participants hold significant value in helping the presenters complete their tasks. Additionally, as faculty members participate in presenting their research, the seminars serve as a valuable model for students to follow. The meeting has received support from the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, and provisions are made to provide lunch and snacks during the gathering.

Dr. Osuka leading BRAIN TRIP meetingDr. Osuka leading BRAIN TRIP meetingQ: What is innovative about this program?
The distinctive aspect of this program lies in its emphasis on nurturing and supporting trainees and junior researchers. Rather than solely featuring presentations on completed research by established researchers, we focus on inviting trainees and junior researchers to share their ongoing projects and receive valuable feedback to enhance their research endeavors. The meeting is an invaluable opportunity for junior researchers and trainees to improve their presentation skills within a supportive academic environment. Furthermore, this gathering fosters the development of networks and encourages the formation of new collaborations within the Neuro-Oncology Group at UAB, further enriching the research community.

Q: What opportunities are available to faculty looking to participate in or partner with the program?
We extend a warm invitation to anyone interested in attending this meeting. If you would like to join our mailing list, kindly email Dr. Osuka (sosuka@uabmc.edu) or me (jleavenworth@uabmc.edu), and we will be delighted to include you.

If you lead or are part of a team science group and would like the Heersink School of Medicine to highlight your group’s activities, please email SOMresearch@uab.edu.