Ivy Foundation Project Kick-off Meeting Focuses on Collaboration

The Ivy Foundation held its first-ever research project kick-off meeting on January 23, 2009. The purpose of the meeting was to gather the 2008 Ivy Foundation awardees to move research forward by encouraging collaboration, fostering dialogue and providing an opportunity for an open exchange of ideas.

Catherine Ivy, the Ivy Foundation founder, launched the event with opening remarks that captured the spirit and set the tone for the meeting. “Today I ask you to communicate openly and candidly – there is no judgment about the ideas developed in this room as we are committed to keeping this science moving forward.” Ivy also encouraged participants to take a serious look at each of the projects and solicited candid and comprehensive feedback to ensure that no stones be left unturned. “If we fail, let’s learn from it, share our lessons and move on.”

In a truly unique approach, the Ivy Foundation brought together the awardees before commencing their projects to brainstorm with their peers about ways to improve. “We wanted to explore the benefit of gathering researchers at the start of their research projects to allow for time to make changes that could improve their success and maximize our investment,” said Catherine Ivy. “The researchers had been guaranteed funding for their project and were not in a position of competition, so they were able to discuss and critique each others’ work in an open and collegial environment. We strive to support merit-based, high-risk science projects with the sole focus of improving diagnostics and treatments for patients with gliomas.”

The format of the meeting provided each awardee the opportunity to present the goals and specific aims of their project. Each awardee was also asked to identify any gaps in their proposals and highlight the major challenges in moving their research project forward.

The awardees’ presentations were followed by an open dialogue in which the participants discussed how to break through some of the barriers to success – and perhaps more significant – opportunities to pull on each other’s expertise, experience and resources. This interactive exchange provided a forum to discuss specific collaborations, such as sharing tissue and laboratory reagents, contact with other researchers working on complementary projects, access to mouse models, incorporating imaging components, suggestions for parallel studies as well as specific advice for integrating the research into the human setting.

Ivy Foundation Review Network and Strategic Advisory Team were included as active participants at this meeting and helped to generate new ideas and lively discussion. “The interactive format was effective and gathering the researchers at the beginning of the process was not only novel, but proved to be invaluable,” commented one of the reviewers.

Through this collaborative environment, the Ivy Foundation encouraged the discovery of synergies by leveraging the relationships and skills of the researchers. Even though the five research projects funded by the Ivy Foundation cover a wide-range of topics including cancer stem cells, new drug targets and the creation of an anatomic GBM Atlas, they were able to identify common ground and work together to make the projects more impactful for patient focused research. The Ivy Foundation’s approach to this meeting allowed it to realize one of its primary goals: to minimize duplication and maximize cooperation among researchers.

This research project “Kick-off” meeting will serve as the first of many that the Ivy Foundation is planning with the goal of providing researchers an open forum to discuss and debate their research and advance scientific research by working together.

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