2009 Scholar Retreat – Summary

Senior Investigators
Jan Karlseder, Ph.D., The Salk Institute
Dr. Rueben Shaw, The Salk Institute
Inder Verma, Ph.D., The Salk Institute
Art Alberts, Ph.D., Michigan State University

2005 Forbeck Scholars
Ingo Mellinghoff, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Michal Safran, Ph.D., Chaim Sheba Medical Center
Kimberly Kelly, Ph.D., University of Virginia
Benjamin Williams, Ph.D., Dartmouth Medical School

2006 Forbeck Scholars
Carla F. Bender Kim, Ph.D., Children’s Hospital of Boston
Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, Ph.D., Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT
Catriona Jamieson, MD, Ph.D., Moores UCSD Cancer Center
Joseph C. Wu, MD, Ph.D., Stanford School of Medicine

2007 Forbeck Scholars
Kristina Cole, MD, Ph.D., Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Jun Lu, Ph.D., Yale University
Carl Novina, MD, Ph.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Andrea Ventura, MD, Ph.D., Sloan Kettering Institute

2008 Forbeck Scholars
Joshua Brody, MD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Lili Yang, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
Russell Jones, Ph.D., McGille Cancer Center
Stefanie Sarantopoulous, MD, Ph.D., Duke University


The 5th scholar retreat took place from September 17th to 20th in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and was another spectacular success. The meeting was attended by scholars honored with the award in the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The unfortunate and unanticipated lack of participation by the RNAi class of 2006 was compensated by the enthusiastic participation and wonderfully lively discussions by the scholars of the other years. Meeting guidelines followed the famous 5-slide-rule established in the Hilton Head meetings, which led to vigorous scientific exchange and in depth discussion of numerous cancer related topics.

While a single topic is discussed at the forum in Hilton Head, the Scholar retreat harbors representatives of four previous different topics. This arrangement leads to extraordinarily stimulating discussions, and at the same time allows the participants to learn from each other and expand their horizon to areas of cancer research that they are not directly involved in. Consequently the educational aspects of the scholar retreat are strongly enhanced.

One of the most important features of the scholar retreat is the mixing of young scientists in various stages of their careers. Some participants are just about to transition from being a postdoc to their first faculty position, while others have spend a year or two as heads of laboratories already, and again some are even more advanced in their careers. What everybody has in common is a deep understanding and respect of the hurdles that young scientists face. Many discussions about grant writing, hiring of lab personnel and writing of publications ensued.

Four mentors participated in the meeting, also spanning a range of career stages, with Dr. Inder Verma being the most distinguished and presenting the opening speech on Thursday evening. All of the mentors were highly impressed with the quality of the science presented by the scholars, and it was wonderful to see a number of collaborations between senior and junior scientists develop on the spot in Lake Geneva.