New York City has long been a center of great breakthroughs in medical research. On a recent afternoon, principal investigators, leaders, and students from Weill Cornell Medical Center and Hunter College gathered at the Belfer Research Building to celebrate a partnership that promises to yield future stellar advances. The inaugural Hunter College/Weill Cornell Medicine Belfer Research Retreat marked the two-year anniversary of a unique and innovative public-private partnership, one of shared space and shared research goals.
Hunter’s purchase of the fourth floor of the $650 million building on East 69th Street, built by Weill Cornell, has already resulted in several gainful collaborations between principal investigators from both institutions. Throughout the daylong symposium, researchers shared their work in translational science, a fast-emerging field aimed at advancing research from bench to bedside.
Jennifer J. Raab, president of Hunter College, said that the collaboration with Weill Cornell “has had a phenomenal impact on the quality of science accomplished at Hunter; together, the two institutions will move research from the bench to the bedside to beyond, into communities.”
That process is already underway in East Harlem, which suffers from some of the worst health indicators in New York City. There, said President Raab, Hunter’s All in East Harlem initiative, directed by Senior Advisor to the President and former Deputy Mayor, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, is partnering with Weill Cornell in carrying out its mission to address the health, education and economic challenges of the neighborhood.
At Belfer, Weill’s Julianne Imperato-McGinley M.D, Program Director of the Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) and Associate Dean of Translational Research and Education, who was instrumental in bringing about the partnership since its inception ten years ago, said, “You can feel the cumulative effect of the collaboration breaking barriers of disciplines and institutions.” And the collaboration in East Harlem, she said, represents the way the partnership is creating an “infrastructure without walls.”
For Weill Cornell, one advantage of having 11 professors/principal investigators, 16 postdoctoral candidates, and 97 students from Hunter working alongside their researchers has been, Gary Koretzky, MD, vice dean for research at Weill Cornell Medicine, told the assembled crowd, “the large number of outstanding young trainees that Hunter brings with them to our campus.”