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July 11, 2023

Barbara Kazmierczak, MD, PhD

Vice Chair, Basic Research

Harriet Kluger, MD

Vice Chair, Collaborative Research

Robert Soufer, MD

Vice Chair, Clinical Research

During the previous fiscal year, research leadership held two retreats focused on expanding the scope of research; creating prioritization for specific areas of exploration; and outlining the strategy for increased research infrastructure. Retreat participants identified four priority areas for the department’s focus:

  • Bioinformatics/data analysis
  • Translational geroscience
  • Program in immunometabolism
  • Applied data science and precision medicine

As of late 2022, the initiatives in translational geroscience, bioinformatics/data analysis, and the program in immunometabolism are moving forward.

In September 2022, the Yale Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center launched a new pilot grant program focused on translational geroscience, and solicited letters of intent for projects to facilitate innovative and high-impact geroscience research, and establish or strengthen cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Research Space

Robert Soufer, MD, and the new departmental research vice chairs continue to partner with leaders across the school regarding the ongoing expansion of clinical and translational research space. Proposals have been submitted from strategic areas. In this past year the clinical research space at 135 College Street has increased by 4,400 square feet. The space has been remodeled to provide several dry bench workstations; clinical examination rooms; interview space; and accommodations for data management and storage.

New PhD Program in Translational Biomedicine

In recognition of the growing research expertise in clinical departments, the school has launched the Program in Translational Biomedicine, a new training initiative for PhD students. This program, co-led by Richard Kibbey, MD/PhD, from Endocrinology, and Megan King, PhD, from Cell Biology, supports the research training of PhD students interested in translational research. In addition, the program offers a track leading to graduate school appointment and the attendant ability to mentor graduate students for faculty in the department even if the faculty members do not have a secondary appointment in one of the basic science departments.

New Team Science Pilot Award Program

The Yale Office of Team Science launched a new program for YSM faculty who are developing large multi-component NIH grant submissions (e.g., P30, P50, P01, U01, U19, U54, and similar complex funding mechanisms). Principal investigators will be able to schedule a “studio” to convene a panel of experts to review proposals in the development stage. The department has made the use of this new program a priority.

New Leadership

In July, the department announced two new leaders in research: Barbara Kazmierczak, MD, PhD; and Harriet Kluger, MD. Kazmierczak became the new vice chair for basic research. Her research interests include mechanisms of bacterial virulence, antibiotic resistance, and immune evasion. Under her leadership, YSM’s MD/PhD Program has grown to be the fourth largest in the country. She will strengthen the basic science infrastructure and foster stronger connections between faculty within and beyond the department. Deepest appreciation to Lloyd G. Cantley, MD, who had served in that position for the past 15 years.

Kluger was named vice chair of collaborative research. This new leadership position was created to assist the department in facilitating interdisciplinary research within the Yale School of Medicine. Kluger directs the Yale Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Skin Cancer, an example of the type of multi-project large grants that the department intends to pursue. She plans to expand what is being done in the laboratory into the clinic and vice versa, and increase the number and range of interdisciplinary investigations.

Looking Ahead

The department has prioritized the following areas to enhance clinical and translational research infrastructure: biostatistics and bioinformatics; and integrated EHR/genomic/biospecimen collection. The department is also working to improve post-award support, along with increasing support for junior investigators in such areas as the K-R transition, grant writing, and team science, along with establishing research forums to improve awareness and strengthen community. Plans to expand the Hospital Research Unit (HRU) are also being drafted.

Submitted by Julie Parry on July 11, 2023