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RBHS Academic and Research Buzz – April 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the first 2021 issue of the RBHS academic and research newsletter, which provides general information and news updates from our faculty, student affairs, and research office. If you have information for inclusion in future editions or any suggestions, please send to: svcaar@rbhs.rutgers.edu.

Stay safe, happy Spring, and please

Wear a face-covering 😷 Watch your distance 🛑 Wash your hands 🤲 Get vaccinated 💉

Bishr Omary
Senior Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs and Research

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RBHS Academic and Research Buzz – April 2021 

Awards and Recognitions

We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting nominations for our second annual RBHS Chancellor Awards that recognize and highlight the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff. We are also delighted to share the expansion of our staff awards for additional categories including: Sustained Service; Emerging Leader; Leadership; a Team Award; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Community Service. Awardees will be honored during a celebration in the fall and receive a plaque and an honorarium. We hope that by then we can do an in-person celebration! 

Please visit the RBHS Chancellor Awards website for information about the award categories, eligibility, and nomination requirements. The nomination period is open until May 17, 2021. 

In case you missed it, you can view the 2020 RBHS Chancellor Awards Ceremony video and meet the recipients of the inaugural RBHS Chancellor Awards from last year.   

CONGRATULATIONS to RBHS professors, Dr. Brian L. Strom and Dr. Charles J. Weschler who were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor awarded by their peers, as a result of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. A virtual induction ceremony occurred on February 13, 2021. Dr. Strom, our RBHS Chancellor, and the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs at Rutgers University, was recognized by AAAS for his “distinguished contributions to the field of pharmacoepidemiology, and the study of the use and effects of pharmaceuticals in populations.” Dr. Weschler, Adjunct Professor at Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), was recognized for his “distinguished contributions to the field of indoor chemistry, particularly for improving our understanding of chemicals present in indoor air, their sources and their fate.” 

CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Eileen White, Deputy Director, Chief Scientific Officer, and Associate Director for Basic Research of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) who has been elected to the 2021 class of Fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy. Dr. White is one of 25 scientists from around the world to join the 2021 class of fellows. This prestigious accolade is offered only to individuals whose work has had a significant and enduring impact on cancer research. The White Laboratory at CINJ focuses on translational research modulating the apoptosis pathway for cancer therapy and on the role of cellular metabolism in cancer progression and treatment. Her group discovered critical metabolic pathways through which cancer cells survive, reproduce, and evade immune responses, paving new ways to inhibit tumor growth and improve anti-cancer immune responses. 

Rutgers Unveiled Its “Big Ideas” Initiative calling for philanthropic support for Rutgers-led projects to tackle 12 complex issues such as public health, climate resilience, social justice, and more. In late 2018, Rutgers issued a challenge to its 23,000 faculty and staff: “Bring us your most imaginative, disruptive, and visionary proposals for bold initiatives that will positively transform our community and change the world.”  The initiative prompted the submission of more than 200 proposals, covering a range of research disciplines, services, and locations from across Rutgers. Of the 200+ submissions, 40 teams went on to pitch their projects at a symposium in October 2019, and, in 2020, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway, along with academic leaders and the chancellors deliberated to select the final 12 Big Ideas addressing the critical issues of our time, including 5 from RBHS:  

A Few Higlights of Academic Affairs Activities

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion  

RBHS recently launched the process to support the implementation of the Rutgers university-wide diversity strategic planning (UDSP). An RBHS UDSP steering committee has already begun this work with co-chairs tied to each University wide diversity priority who will support the creation of actionable RBHS diversity goals in the coming months. Each RBHS Unit (ex: Schools and Institutes) is currently fully engaged in this process of reflection and self-assessment to develop Unit-specific actionable goals and identify metrics that will assist us in measuring our progress towards inclusive excellence.
 
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion continues working on several programs and initiatives. This includes hosting monthly Virtual Cafes for affinity groups to build community and discuss topics of interest.    

The RBHS Staff Mentoring Program (SMP) launched in January 2021 as a pilot program. The goals of the program are to promote a culture of mentorship, professional development, and collaboration amongst staff members. For the first year, the RBHS Staff Mentoring Program will be offered as a pilot program to a limited group of staff administrators at RBHS. We anticipate expanding this program in the future. Our program partners for the SMP are the Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership and the Rutgers Connection Network
 
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the RBHS Anti-Racism Task Force held its first Racial Healing Circle facilitate by Sharon Stroye Truth, Director, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Center at Rutgers University-Newark. Future Racial Healing Circles are scheduled for April 15th, May 20th, and June 17th 2pm-3:30pm. Register here. Each session is limited to 25 participants. 
 
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has developed two self-directed Canvas courses with certificates available on completion: “What Should I Do Now? Anti-Racism Training” and “Implicit Bias Training”. We encourage you to enroll and complete these trainings at your own pace. You can also self-enroll in the several modules offered by the LinkedIn Learning resources Starting Points and Learning Paths.     

Dr. Sangeeta Lamba, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion and Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald-Bocarsly, Provost-RBHS Newark Campus are co-chairing the newly created Women and Gender Equity Faculty Council (WGEC). The WGEC will engage women faculty and offer opportunities to network across departments and disciplines, serve as an advocacy and mentoring resource, and provide a forum for support, education, and discussion.   

Finally, the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion is hosting an exciting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium on April 21st 9am-2pm. Dr. Anna Branch, Senior Vice President for Equity at Rutgers University will give the morning keynote address followed by presentations from RBHS-IDEA awardees. Dr. Marie A. Bernard, the acting Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will give the afternoon keynote address.   

Faculty Development and Mentoring  

The Vice Chancellor for Faculty Development, Dr. Maral Mouradian, continues to offer well-attended training programs for RBHS faculty. Recently held programs for mentors include: Inclusive Mentoring: Challenging Assumptions in the Mentoring Relationship and Developing the Mentor: Aligning Expectations both presented by Dr. Anita Siu and Dr. Andrew Gow of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. Recordings of these trainings can be accessed at the preceding links by logging in with your NetID.  

A new Mentoring Networking Series was launched in which faculty connect and discuss cases about various topics related to mentoring. The initial event’s focus was on Inclusive Mentoring and was co-facilitated by Dr. Sangeeta Lamba, RBHS Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Patricia Whitley-Williams, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Dr. Maria Soto-Green, Associate Dean at New Jersey Medical School.  

The next Mentoring Networking Series will focus on Aligning Expectations and is scheduled for Tuesday, April 20th 12pm-1pm. The next faculty mentee training entitled “Being an Effective Mentee: Establishing your Individual Development Plan” featuring Dr. Gregory Peck of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is scheduled for April 30th 12pm-1pm. Registration for the mentee training is forthcoming.   

The Faculty Development website has been updated to include information on the mentoring program at RBHS, goals for the program and information regarding the responsibilities of mentees and mentors.   

Office for Violence Prevention & Victim Assistance

Bystander Intervention Training for faculty and staff helps build a safer campus community. Sexual violence, dating violence and harassment are not just undergraduate issues. Nationwide, 50% of women faculty and staff in academia experience sexual harassment and 20-50% of students experience sexual harassment from faculty or staff (Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; The National Academies Press, 2018). RBHS is dedicated to reducing and preventing all forms of interpersonal violence and faculty and staff play a vital role in this effort. RBHS’ multi-pronged approach to encouraging an inclusive and respectful culture and climate includes: 1. Campus Climate Surveys to understand and respond to sexual violence; 2. Responsive action planning, including preventative training for faculty and staff; and 3. Prevention and support services for the entire RBHS community. To learn more, or to schedule a tailored training for your team, contact Kaylin Padovano, Faculty and Staff Training Coordinator for Enhancing Victim Services, at kaylin@rutgers.edu
  
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month – please join the Office for Violence Prevention & Victim Assistance (VPVA) in supporting survivors and challenging harmful attitudes that allow sexual violence to occur. Staff and faculty serve an important role in modeling healthy attitudes and behaviors for the RBHS community. You can show your support by participating in Denim Day on April 28th by wearing jeans or other denim pieces, or come to one of our pick-up locations to grab a Denim Day button. Learn more at go.rutgers.edu/SAAM21
  
Office of Disability Services 

The RBHS Office of Disability Services created a 3-minute “Meet Our Staff” video that has been added to the RBHS ODS website.  As you meet students, faculty, and staff who may benefit from information about the RBHS Office of Disability Services, please direct them to: https://go.rutgers.edu/ODSRBHS and, in particular, to the 3-minute “Meet Our Staff” video on the home page.  It may be easier for students to “stop by” for assistance if they know about “who” they will be meeting with.  Please share this information and do not hesitate to let us know if there are ways you think the site can be improved.  

ODSRBHS will hold open “office hours” via Zoom beginning March 15th. All are welcome to drop in anytime within the hour to chat for 15-minute increments, or longer if no one is in the waiting room. 

Cindy Poore-Pariseau published an article in the Disability Compliance for Higher Education publication titled “Support Pronoun Disclosure When Students Are Ready.”

A Few Highlights of Research Activities

Research Resources Workshop Wednesdays (R2W2) is a new series of monthly Zoom webinars hosted by the RBHS Office of Research featuring shared resource core facilities available to our researchers. Core directors and other expert panelists have been leading the discussion on the services provided and answering questions in an interactive forum that has been very well attended. The webinars are held on the second Wednesday of each month. More information, including the full schedule and video links to past webinars, is available at: https://academichealth.rutgers.edu/research/r2w2.

Rutgers University is leading the fight against COVID-19 with groundbreaking innovations in clinical, biomedical, and social science research. The Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness (CCRP2) serves as a Rutgers-wide institutional hub for COVID-19 research and innovation. The website for the Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness (CCRP2) has undergone a major overhaul – check it out at: https://covid19research.rutgers.edu.

Recently, several large instrumentation, research, and training grants have been awarded to RBHS faculty: 

CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Dongfang Liu, a member of the Center for Immunity & Inflammation and Professor in the Pathology Department, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) who was awarded a $961,000 NIH S10 High-End Instrumentation Grant to purchase a Leica SP8 STED3X super-resolution microscopy system. This microscope provides state of the art super-resolution imaging capabilities. It will be located in the NJMS Digital Imaging & Histology Core Facility on the RBHS Newark campus, providing expert technology support to investigators at the NJMS, RBHS, and the wider Rutgers research community. This microscope will allow studies of cellular and organellar processes with resolution superior to conventional microscopes in live and fixed cells as well as in tissues.  

CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Roger Howell, Professor in the Pathology Department at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) who was awarded a $1.4M NIH S10 High-End Instrumentation Grant to purchase a MILabs VECTor6CTUHR small- and medium-sized animal scanner that features PET (positron emission tomography), SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography), and CT (transmission computed tomography). This state-of-the-art instrument will be the first and only three-dimensional (3D) animal imaging system available on the RBHS Newark campus. The preclinical multi-modality imaging system will serve a critical need to advance biomedical research at RBHS and throughout Rutgers and will the first high end instrument in a new preclinical imaging facility in Newark jointly developed by ORED, RBHS, and NJMS. NJMS faculty, as well as faculty at other schools and research entities on the Newark campus of RBHS, faculty from other nearby universities including Rutgers University-Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and faculty from other Rutgers schools and campuses will benefit from this new technology.  

CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. M. Maral Mouradian, Vice Chancellor for Faculty Development, William Dow Lovett Professor of Neurology, and Director of the Institute for Neurological Therapeutics at RWJMS, for being awarded two major grants aimed at drug discovery and development in Parkinson’s disease using small molecules targeting RNA. The NIH and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research are co-funding Dr. Mouradian’s innovative project. Additionally, Dr. Mouradian has learned that she will receive an NIH T32 award for Training in Translating Neuroscience to Therapies (TTNT) that is one of only two such National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) awards in the country this year! The goal of this new 5-year training program is to equip post-doctoral fellows, senior graduate students, and MD-PhD students with the knowledge and skills needed to translate basic research discoveries to therapeutics for neurological diseases.   

And…  

On Rutgers Giving Day nearly 1,100 donors contributed over $127,000 to 28 RBHS funds. A number of our schools and units were top contenders for cash prizes on the Leaderboards, including the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies, and the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy Educational Opportunity Fund, which won a $10,000 bonus. Fund ambassadors were responsible for facilitating a surge in donor numbers that nearly doubled last year’s support for RBHS! We are so grateful to all those who have contributed. 

We close with a special THANK YOU to: 

Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy (EMSOP) Alumna Dr. Patricia Devitt Risse, PharmD, founder of ACT Oncology (now part of Precision for Medicine) and President of Clinical Solutions, Precision for Medicine. Dr. Devitt Risse recently donated $125,000 to RBHS for the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Dr. Devitt Risse’s generous gift will further the mission of EMSOP and establish their first Educational Opportunity Fund endowed scholarship. Her gift will also support the Dean's Academic Excellence Fund and $25,000 will support pilot research funding at the Rutgers Cancer Institute. 

Philanthropic support provides vital funding for advancing research, education, and clinical care at RBHS. To partner with the Rutgers University Foundation, to refer those who may be interested in supporting RBHS, or if you have any questions, please contact the RBHS Development Office at: rbhsdevcomm@ruf.rutgers.edu