Inter-school Research Festival Underscores Value of Interdisciplinary Collaboration

By Juliana Bunim

The Second Annual Inter-School Research Festival showcased research from fellows, residents and students from all four UCSF schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, fostering opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration on campus.

Joel Palesky

Joel Palefsky, who is credited with organizing the annual inter-school research festival, makes the rounds learning about the fascinating research projects from fellows, residents and students from all four professional schools. 

The five-day festival, “is part of the growing recognition of the importance of interprofessional team learning and research which is key to the translational medicine of the future,” said Joel Palefsky, MD, director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute's (CTSI) Pathways to Careers in Clinical & Translational Research (PACCTR) fellowship program, which offers intensive research training opportunities for students and residents.  

Palefsky is largely credited with starting the festival, which was sponsored by the CTSI. UCSF continues to foster a culture that embraces interdisciplinary, interprofessional and transdisciplinary educational programs for its students and trainees. In an era of scientific discovery that translates into patient-centered care, it is imperative that health sciences professionals interact with and draw upon the skills and knowledge base of experts across the many disciplines.

The week of events, which was held from May 2 through 6, was dedicated to bringing individuals together from across the University to cross-pollinate, share research and ideas. Included in the five-day festival was “posterpalooza,” where students presented their research to peers and faculty in small rotating groups. Posters were organized by theme rather than professional school to further encourage integration amongst students.

“Getting people with different roles and different expertise to learn together is an important part of education,” said Grant Sanders, a fourth-year medical student who is remaining at UCSF for a residency in anesthesia. Sanders presented research, titled “Vertical Learning in Medical School,” which focused on strengthening the collaboration between first-year and third-year medical students.

Fellows, residents and students from all four UCSF schools discuss their researc

UCSF's Second Annual Inter-School Research Festival showcased research from fellows, residents and students from all four UCSF schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy.

Other research presentations explored topics touching on a wide range of subjects, including “Pregnant Women’s Perceptions and Experiences of HIV Stigma in Kenya” by nursing school student Yvette Cuca, and “Public Health Surveillance of Dental Pain via Twitter,” by dentistry school student Natalie Heaivilin.

Peter Chin-Hong, MD, associate professor in the School of Medicine, and co-director of the CTSI’s PACCTR fellowship program, reflected on one poster examining wait times in the emergency department. “This is an issue that doesn’t affect just one group, it’s impacting physicians, nurses and students. When you’re talking about health care it’s important to have interdisciplinary conversations not just in academia but in the real world.”

Other festival events included a meeting of the Inter-School Journal Club, a regular campus program sponsored by PACCTR where journal articles are read and discussed. Other programs included CTSI’s PACCTR symposium where selected students were chosen to present their research.

“This creates so many arrows going across schools with different levels of expertise, education, types of learners,” said Palefsky. “It’s an important and unique effort of its kind to provide students with the opportunity to further their academic careers through research.”

Photos by Susan Merrell

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