Butcher Symposium 2013

November 22, 2013
Guest post by David Knox

The Butcher Symposium was initiated in 2002 to bring together scientists from across the CU system to promote new collaborations. The Symposium also shares the progress of research previously funded by Butcher Seed Grants. The symposium is held every other year and this year it was held on November 1, 2013, in Westminster, Colorado. Traditionally the Symposium has been restricted to only CU-affiliated faculty and all attendees are required to present a poster at the symposium to be eligible to apply for the Seed grant. This year, for the first time, graduate students were also invited to participate. In parallel with the faculty program, students were required to participate in the poster session to apply for the BioFrontiers Science Alliance (BFSA) Seed Grant program.

The format for the Symposium featured recipients of the 2012 grants giving short talks outlining their progress (scientific, publications and continuing funding) of their proposal. The morning session consisted of 10 talks with a strong medical flavor featuring speakers from National Jewish Health, Anschutz Medical campus, and CU Boulder. Lunch is served at the very dynamic poster session. This year there were nearly 150 faculty and another 40 student posters. The poster session is a perfect venue for finding collaborations. People from five different campuses are able to interact. It is among the most energetic poster session I have attended. Unfortunately, there are too many people and interesting posters to visit in the two hours dedicated to the session. I had a list of 12 posters I wanted to visit and only made it to 6 of them, as I needed to be at my poster for half the time.

The afternoon session continued with longer talks from Dr. Robin Dowell – MCDB Boulder, Dr. David Schwartz – Chair of Medicine at Anschutz Medical Campus, and Dr. Lee Niswander – Children’s Hospital and Developmental Biology at Anschutz. The keynote talk was from Nobel laureate Dr. Jack Szostak about his research into the mechanisms and chemistry that could have been used in the earliest primitive environments and creation of self-replicating membranes in a primordial environment.

The newly created seed grant program for postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, BioFrontiers Science Alliance Seed Grant Award Program, is modeled on the successful Butcher Program that awards seed grants to fund collaborative and potentially transformative bioscience research. BFSA aims to build on existing institutional resources to encourage scientific creativity by supporting the independent research projects designed and proposed by graduate students and postdocs.

The primary goals of this award are to provide graduate students and postdocs with opportunities to:

• Tap into their own creativity and independently design and follow through on their own research ideas (not those of their faculty advisor)
• Pursue interdisciplinary collaborative projects that represent a significant new research direction
• Collaborate with diverse colleagues at CU Boulder and at other Colorado research organizations
• Participate in and expand the membership of the BioFrontiers Science Alliance
• Gain practical experience in the grant review and award processes.

For more information about BFSA and these events, please visit us at the BioFrontiers Science Alliance website.

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