News: Preparing for the future at Robarts Research Institute

It was during a co-op placement at the London Regional Cancer Program that medical biophysics first captured Robert Bartha’s imagination. A young undergraduate student at the time, Bartha discovered how he could use his interest and studies in physics to better human health.

Since then, medical imaging has been the focus of his research and Robarts Research Institute his home base. Now, nearly 20 years after arriving at the Institute, Bartha has taken on an important role that will help to position and lead Robarts through the next decade and beyond.

“I’m stepping into a very specific role as the Acting Director, Strategy and Scientific Integration at the Institute,” said Bartha. “It is a limited appointment for 11 months, and I’ll be working to prepare for the external review we hope will take place this fall, as well as to develop a strategic plan.”

Bartha is well placed to advance this work and he will draw upon his career-long experiences at the Institute, as well as his many relationships at the Institute, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Western University.

“I’m looking forward to working with School and Western leadership and my colleagues to develop our vision and I’m excited by the potential of the Institute,” said Bartha.

Appointed to the role in late July, Bartha has been focused on gathering all the information for the self-study, from details about support service activities to specifics about organization structure, education and research programs. And he’s been meeting with scientists to advance the strategic plan – an important document for the external review.

A few months into his work, Bartha is very focused on capturing the ideas of his colleagues and ultimately getting the buy-in from scientists across the Institute.

“Getting endorsement by everyone at Robarts will be very important to ensure the success of the plan and our future,” he said.

Bartha believes that one of the most important things that will need to be identified through the strategic plan work is how Robarts fits and integrates with the rest of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and with Western.

“We have a very distinctive role,” said Bartha. “As a horizontal institute striving for research excellence, we bring different disciplines into one creative space to form interdisciplinary teams that develop new technologies, answer biomedical research questions, solve health problems and translate our findings to benefit patients. We have clinicians co-located with basic scientists, which creates an interface between basic and clinical research. This is different than a traditional department focused around one area of medical science.”

With deadlines to complete the self-study, external review and strategic plan in the coming months, Bartha expects the fall and winter months to be very busy. But he’s looking forward to the outcomes and seeing Robarts flourish in the future by translating new breakthroughs to better the lives of patients everywhere.