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Innovations Symposium: Measuring What Matters

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s Health program strives to create more opportunities to transform IBD research and eradicate the disease. We do this in several ways: by funding innovative proof of principal scientific research, hosting an annual Symposium that attracts researchers from around the globe, and exploring new initiatives to accelerate progress toward finding a cure for IBD. We continually assess our work to ensure that our programs are responsive to and reflective of our basic principles of innovation and collaboration. We believe that the best assessments are ongoing and embedded in our processes. The feedback we receive from our grantees, other scientists and partners shapes our strategic direction and grantmaking. For example, as part of our application process for our 2015 Innovator Awards program, we issued a special call for research that explores how diet/nutrition can play a role in treating IBD. We did this partially in response to IBD clinical research colleagues raising this issue with us and challenging us to support work in this important area.

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Attendees listening to research findings.

Equally as important are the Symposium evaluation results. Each year we take your input to heart, incorporating suggestions to make improvements and ensuring that our event continues to be inspiring, worthwhile and attractive to returning and new attendees. This year we added a grantee poster session to enable Rainin Foundation grantees to share their work with the broader community and provide more opportunities to facilitate substantive discussions on grantee research topics. We were also mindful in selecting a meeting venue that we thought would better support informal networking and collaboration, goals that attendees identified as important to their experience.

The Symposium survey results are critical in helping us gauge our progress in key areas. They also tell us how we are measuring up to your expectations.  Here’s a snapshot of how we’re doing:

Overall, the Foundation is doing a great job creating a space where researchers from diverse disciplines can gather to network and explore new collaborations. Attendees loved the venue because of the actual physical space and amenities, as well as the location. Your feedback is encouraging us to explore additional ways to create more interaction between junior and senior researchers, and others who don’t already know one another.

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When did you connect with collaborators for the Synergy Award?

We are attracting interesting guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines and they are presenting useful information. A majority of the attendees felt that many of the presentations would help inform their research or ideas for pursuing an IBD project. While many thought the speakers had interesting perspectives, we fell short in making a consistently strong connection between wound healing and repair, and IBD. The Foundation will continue to try new approaches to linking our Symposium topics to IBD in a clear and compelling way. We also heard that we should expand the number of speakers, including more Rainin Foundation grantees. 

The Synergy Award is a positive incentive that is succeeding in encouraging attendees to connect with one another during the Symposium to forge new partnerships. Many of you partnered with new colleagues to submit a Synergy Award proposal, and you connected during the event with your collaborators to determine your research project. This award is leading to synergistic efforts, living up to its name and supporting novel ideas for research.

Taking all of this year’s survey results and other feedback into consideration, this is where we see ourselves going:

  • The Foundation is committed to hosting an annual event to provide a venue for researchers from diverse scientific disciplines to create connections and collaborations that will accelerate innovation in IBD research.
  • We will ensure that Rainin Foundation grantees continue to have an opportunity to share their research with peers and those working in complementary fields, to better understand the implications of their research and spark new ideas.
  • We will continue to issue a Request for Proposals for the Synergy Award following each annual Symposium as an exclusive opportunity for attendees to form new research partnerships and develop collaborative and potentially groundbreaking projects.
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    Gautam Dantas, PhD, Washington University School of Medicine, speaking during our Grantee Session.

    We will work hard to ensure that the content of the presentations is innovative, clearly relevant to the annual Symposium topic, and explicitly addresses the question of how it relates to IBD research.

  • We will continue to ask for your feedback and seek ways to improve the Symposium and our grantmaking activities. Most importantly, we will stay true to our mission of pursuing new avenues to advance transformative IBD research that will ultimately lead to a cure.

Save the Date

Join us for our 2016 Innovations Symposium: Emerging IBD Strategies on Thursday, July 21 – Friday, July 22, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. Our Scientific Advisory Board members and Foundation staff are already putting together a compelling agenda to energize attendees, forge new connections and stimulate creative new research. Thank you for being a part of our work and sharing your candid feedback. We are listening!

Photo above – Symposium attendees focus on the innovative findings of their colleagues. 

 


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