Director's Message: 2nd Annual TED-style Talks on July 23, 2020

The time has come once again for us to come together as a center at our Annual Scientific Retreat in just a few weeks. Though it will look different this year in our virtual format, our members, fellows, post-docs and trainees have the opportunity to be enriched by guest speakers, hear updates from Cancer Center leadership and participate in program-specific breakout sessions to help shape future research projects in our abridged retreat.

Again this year, we have opened a portion of our retreat to our broader community with engaging TED-style talks from three prominent leaders of research and advocacy. These talks will take place beginning at 12 pm on Thursday, July 23 and will be broadcast live on the university’s S1 streaming channel simultaneously from a members-only Zoom meeting. These three leaders in their fields will share their insights from decades of experience cultivating community, challenging the status quo, and always seeking to better humankind.

While I know you will enjoy each of these talks, I hope you will invite others to take the opportunity to hear from them as well.

GO TEAM! How Team Science Creates Scientific Impact

Portrait of Jill Barnholtz-Sloan in blue dress and black blazer

Associate Director for Data Sciences at the Case CCC, Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD will kick off Thursday’s talks discussing the impact of collaboration. Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan is a multi-disciplinary researcher trained in biostatistics, population genetics, and human genetics. Her role in team science has been essential for multiple, successful multi-disciplinary research projects. She also serves as Associate Director for Translational Informatics for the Cleveland Institute of Computational Biology and has multiple roles in the Case Western (CWRU) School of Medicine and the University Hospitals of Cleveland (UH), which all focus on optimizing the use of data and analytics to advance health care. In these roles, she advances research endeavors by advocating for and assisting researchers in obtaining access to and using large health datasets (publicly available or controlled access) to answer research questions. Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan also aids investigators in the use of secure database infrastructure needed for human subjects’ research, the implementation of robust study designs, as well as the interpretation of results. These efforts aim to reduce the burden and barriers researchers may encounter in gaining access to and analyzing “big data”, enabling them to think about and perform research that has previously not been pursued. As the Director for Research Health Analytics and Informatics at UH, she facilitates access to and analysis of UH data. Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan’s efforts focus on aiding clinicians in utilizing “big data” to impact clinical outcomes modeling that can drive both health operations and clinical decision making. All of these roles draw upon her extensive experience in hypothesis development, study design and biostatistical analysis for studies of various phenotypes in humans and animals, including clinical outcomes.  

Antifragility: Beyond Resilience

Portrait of Dr. Edward Barksdale in a navy suit jacket with red tie, smiling

Edward Barksdale, MD is the Robert J. Izant, Jr., MD Professor and Surgeon-in-Chief at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital/University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He currently works at the nexus of academia, clinical surgery, medical education, public health and social justice as a passionate advocate for child health and healthcare. He endeavors to invest his academic, clinical and service efforts to inspire individuals and transform communities at the precipice of hope in one of America’s Greatest but most distressed cities. Dr. Barksdale has been a member and leader of numerous prestigious surgical organizations. He has received local and national recognition for his clinical excellence as one of the “Top Docs” in America since 2001 and Black Enterprise Magazine as one of America’s Leading Doctors in 2008. Dr. Barksdale has long had a strong interest in pediatric cancer and for many years had a funded laboratory research program studying the immunobiology of neuroblastoma, a common pediatric malignancy. His interests also included the chronic childhood condition of Short Bowel Syndrome. He founded, with collaborators in Pittsburgh, the first interdisciplinary program to manage this condition in the world that included the then-novel approach of intestinal transplantation. His current research efforts have evolved toward the translational study on the impact of Toxic Stress (youth violence) on the health of children and communities. He is a frequent lecturer on these clinical and social issues, publishing more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in leading journals and book chapters. He is the Co-Founder of the Antifragility Initiative, a novel holistic, person-centered, pediatric violence intervention program based at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital supported by a ~$1.3 million Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant. His career has been guided by strong humanistic values he learned from family and community growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia during the dynamic 1960’s.

What is your why?

Portrait of Eileen Saffran wearing white blouse and scarf smiling into camera

Eileen Saffran, LISW-S is the Founder and CEO of MTN Strategies and Founder and Senior Advisor of The Gathering Place (TGP). MTN Strategies consults with nonprofit organizations to “move the needle” (MTN); partnering with organizations to identify and evaluate their challenges and develop customized solutions. She has wide-ranging experience working in all dimensions of nonprofit management. Eileen founded The Gathering Place in 1998 and served as Chief Executive Officer until 2020. During her tenure at The Gathering Place, Eileen was a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center for over 10 years. She is presently volunteering to help create and then fill a Research Advocate role for the Center. After twenty-three years as a clinical social worker and being personally touched by cancer, Eileen envisioned a place that would focus on the mind, body and spirit aspect of the cancer journey; with programs and services complementing and integrating with traditional medical care while enhancing quality of life. Under Eileen’s watch, TGP raised over $35 million for operating, capital and endowment support relying 100% on private funding. TGP has developed collaborative working relationships with all cancer care providers in the Greater Cleveland area and operates out of two main facilities in the Greater Cleveland area (Beachwood and Westlake) with an additional separate wellness center in Beachwood. In addition to providing leadership for TGP, Eileen served on the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County and presently serves on Leadership Cleveland’s Alumni Advisory Council and the Community Advisory Board for the Master of Nonprofit Administration at John Carroll University. She is an alumnus of Leadership Cleveland (2003) and has received many prestigious honors including the Maurice Saltzman Award from Mt Sinai Health Care Foundation (2019), the Reminger Women’s Initiative Vanguard Award (2013), the Health Care Hero Non-Profit Administrator of the Year Award from Crain’s Cleveland Business (2012) and the YWCA Woman of the Year Award (2011) to name a few.

Thursday's program is open to all and the full retreat agenda is available for those members, fellows, post-docs and trainees registered for the two-day event. We look forward to (virtually) seeing you there!

Stan Gerson, MD
Director, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center