The primary goal of the Enrichment Program of the DRC is to enhance the scientific environment at Yale University by promoting the open exchange of information and ideas among DRC faculty, trainees and "cutting edge" visiting scientists. The Enrichment Program consists of 1) a weekly DRC-Endocrinology Research Seminar Series; 2) Diabetes-Related Special Lectureships incorporated into the seminar programs or grand rounds of Internal Medicine, Immunobiology, Translational Immunology, Cell Biology, and Vascular Biology/Transplantation and 3) the DRC Diabetes Research Day Symposium. In addition, through exposure to interdepartmental activities and cores, we aim to strengthen and stimulate training in diabetes-related research by fellows and junior faculty from the diverse programs represented by DRC senior faculty members.
In 1993, the Yale DRC initiated its Enrichment Program and almost immediately we leveraged the grant to supplement the program with donations from corporations and private sources, thereby allowing us to greatly expand its scope and quality. In the second year, we sponsored our first annual DRC Symposium, initiated DRC-sponsored lectureships in immunobiology, had the first annual retreat, and received a Pfizer Visiting Scientist Award. In subsequent years, we initiated diabetes-related lectureships in other basic science departments (e.g. Cell Biology and the Biology Department at the College), we have sponsored lectures in Vascular Biology and Transplantation, and sponsored a symposium on brain glucose sensing that led to the formation of a research club to promote collaborative research. We have successfully competed for six Pfizer Visiting Lecturers and have incorporated several lectureships, including the Peters, Bondy and Baxter Visiting Professors into the Program.
The DRC Enrichment Program has had an enormous impact on diabetes research at Yale by allowing us to greatly expand the number of visiting scientists in areas related to diabetes. Prior to funding of the DRC only a minority of the speakers at the weekly research seminar focused on Diabetes and Endocrinology came from outside of Yale. Currently, most of the speakers are visiting scientists, thereby markedly increasing the exposure of our faculty and trainees to new concepts and information. The Diabetes Symposium or Research Day has attracted faculty and trainees from throughout Yale as well as endocrinologists throughout the state (attendance is ~150). These highly successful events have brought increased visibility to the DRC. Our support of lectureships within basic science departments has been, and we believe in the future will continue to be, critical for the growth and diversification of the Center. The success of this initiative is best seen in Immunobiology where the program has been in place the longest. By exposing a strong group of basic scientists to diabetes through this lecture series, we have stimulated interest in diabetes-related research among faculty with little prior interest in diabetes, interested postdoctoral fellows to pursue projects related to diabetes (e.g. Drs. Mora, Li and Green), encouraged several DRC pilot projects, and stimulated the Section to develop a new program in Human Translational Immunology focused on type 1 diabetes prevention. The goal is to encourage interactions between basic and clinical scientists working in areas related to diabetes, a historical strength of Yale. Finally, our DRC retreat has served as a vehicle for DRC members to present their research. The focus is primarily on research of junior faculty and the principal benefit has been to increase collaborations and to provide scientific criticism.
In the future, the Diabetes Research Day will be a jointly sponsored event of the DRC and the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center (MMPC). By presenting the research generated by these closely related Centers on the same day we anticipate a greater expansion of local interest, and as result, further promote collaborations. The program will have three components. The early morning activities will focus on center performance by members of each center External Advisory Committee. This will be followed by a 2-hour poster session (11am-1pm) in the TAC courtyard open to the Yale community at which data generated by investigators from both Centers are presented and lunch served. A prize for the most outstanding poster will be given, selected by the External Advisors. Subsequently, there will be two lectures by a junior faculty members selected from P&F recipients and this will be followed by the highlight of the event, a lecture from an internationally-renown guest speaker. The goal of the event is to more effectively increase visibility of DRC research and programs among Yale faculty and trainees and provide the External Advisory Committee with a more direct and comprehensive assessment of the scientific productivity of the Center. At the end of the day, the Advisory Board will meet with the Director and Executive Committee to critique DRC activities, services and its success in fulfilling its mission.
In summary, the Enrichment Program has given the diabetes-related research center stage within the University and has promoted interest in diabetes among basic scientists at Yale that was not evident before.