2008 Scholar Retreat – Summary

Senior Investigators
Anindya Dutta, MD, Ph.D., University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
David E. Fisher, MD, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
Martine Roussel, Ph.D., St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
Norman Sharpless, MD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Charles Sherr, MD, Ph.D., St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN

2004 Forbeck Scholars
Edward Attiyeh, MD Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Nabeel Bardeesy, Ph.D., Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Anthony G. Letai, MD, Ph.D., Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

2005 Forbeck Scholars
Kimberly Kelly, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA
Ingo K. Mellinghoff, MD, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Michal Safran, Ph.D., Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Benjamin B. Williams, Ph.D., Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH

2006 Forbeck Scholars
Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, Ph.D., Broad Institute of Harvard & MIT, Boston, MA
Carla F. Bender Kim, Ph.D., MIT & Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA

2007 Forbeck Scholars
Kristina Cole, MD, Ph.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Swarthmore, PA
Jun Lu, Ph.D., MIT, Cambridge, MA
Carl Novina, MD, Ph.D., Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Andrea Ventura, MD, Ph.D., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY

The 2008 Scholars’ Retreat was held in September 2008 at Lake Geneva, representing the 4th year since the birth of this program. The event was a smashing success. The Retreat is an annual meeting which is attended by the most current 4 years of Forbeck Scholars in addition to a panel of faculty mentors. The meeting follows the Forbeck Forum model of up to 5 slides maximum, with extensive scientific exchange and discussion. However there are several important distinctions of this meeting, relative to the Forum, distinctions which significantly impact the experience for the scholars.

Scholars Retreats are attended by young cancer researchers who inherently focus on a diverse cross section of topics within the field of oncology or related disciplines within biomedical research. Since Scholars are selected on the basis of their achievements as well as the focus of the Forum which they attend, the mixing of Scholars from different years brings together unique combinations of expertise. In addition to the diversity of scientific subject matter, the Scholars are also diverse in their stages of professional development. While some are still working within a mentor’s lab, others (on the older end of the spectrum) are likely to have started their own independent laboratories. This mix of “seniority” provides a novel opportunity for the attendees to learn the inside scoop from friends and colleagues who have recently “been there” for many of the challenges inherent in a biomedical research career. For example extensive discussions involve faculty job searches, negotiations, compensation (start-up packages), grant writing strategies, “how to get invited to a meeting,” or “how to get invited to write a review. Other notable topics include “how to respond to journal editors” and “is it better to publish two small stories or one large story” and “how to manage scientific collaborations without losing credit for your work.”

This year’s attendees were a particularly animated group. The quality of the science was outstanding. The very best technologies were routinely employed and every scholar had a truly interesting story to tell. Although their discoveries are too extensive to review here, it is abundantly clear that the Retreat was housing future leaders in multiple important research areas. Five faculty mentors also attended. Although they tried their best to keep up with their younger colleagues at the bar, not all of them succeeded (the younger generations seem to be breaking records). But mentors’ scientific presentations proceeded as among a collection of peers. I know I can speak for the other mentors in saying that the “learning” was happening with equal flux in both directions. Fortunately there were at least a few morsels of career advice which the mentors could offer, to exploit their greater experience, if not age. The keynote speaker was Chuck Sherr from St. Jude Hospital, who participated together with the other mentors Anindya Dutta; Martine Roussel; Norman Sharpless; and David Fisher.