Sparking research passions

Their goal is to help make your dreams become a reality. The Schulich Research Office’s team of eight are working every day to turn researchers’ ideas, dreams and goals into action plans and assist them every step of the way in following it through.
“Scientists by nature are always looking for something new,” said Denise Figlewicz, vice dean, Research and Innovation. “The Research Office provides the opportunity for these scientists to grow as researchers and to grow their programs.”

This is a relatively new mandate for the Research Office, said Director, Mady Hymowitz. “We used to be an office primarily focused on administration,” she said. “Now we’ve added capacity to assist our researchers in putting together the strongest possible research grants.” They do this in a number of ways including providing collaborative seed grant funding to help get to new team-based projects started, facilitating meetings between scientists and clinicians, reviewing grants and arranging peer-review sessions. They also seek out new funding avenues and match up researchers with new organizations or projects.
Any one of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s three research officers, Melanie Katsivo, Mary Ann Pollmann-Mudryj, and Kevin O’Neil, meet one-on-one with researchers to assist with these tasks.

Greg Vilk is the Research Office’s industry liaison and assists researchers in making industry connections. Having spent time on the basic science side and on the industry side, he can speak the language of both and uses this unique perspective to guide researchers who are looking to bring their discoveries to market.

Mariel Angus is responsible for administering eight different programs that aid clinicians and students in getting hands-on research experience. This includes the Student Research Training Program which gives medical students exposure to working in a research environment, and the Clinician Investigator Program that provides physicians the opportunity to pursue a research-focused master’s degree.
Rounding out the research team is Stacy Dinel, the Research Office’s Administrative Assistant and the one who keeps everything running smoothly.

In the midst of upcoming changes to the funding model at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and what many see as an unsteady future for health research funding, the Research Office is also being proactive in its approach to addressing these concerns.

“Getting our researchers funded and keeping them funded is an important part of our job as well,” Figlewicz said. Part of that includes the Strategic Support of Tri-Council Success Program, which provides gap funding to researchers to help take their research to the next level in order to be better prepared to apply for the new CIHR grants being rolled out this fall. They have also been keeping the research community informed of the changes through newsletters, bulletins and special meetings with CIHR representatives.

While these are challenging times in terms of funding, Figlewicz passionate about her role and the skills the team brings to the table. “I’m excited about this job and I’m excited about our team,” Figlewicz said.