Educational Workshops

Each of the Workshops will all be held at Columbia, research community members will have access to PowerPoint presentations and Skype access to all workshops to allow members to participate from a distance.

To foster the career development of trainees engaged in dermatologic research, epiCURE faculty offer grantsmanship workshops tailored for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and clinical fellows. The course goal is to provide a structured environment and strategies for writing a competitive fellowship application. For predoctoral fellows, the workshop curriculum focuses heavily on the Aims page as a venue for developing feasible, hypothesis-driven projects that are suitable for the predoctoral training stage. We will offer these workshops annually. The course is structured around the NIH NRSA for Individual Fellows application or K-series mentored and transitional awards; however, applications can be adapted to the R01 mechanism for senior fellows embarking on independent positions. Dr. Lumpkin and other epiCURE faculty will provide feedback on grant sections though written and two oral ‘lightening critique’ sessions. Participants also recruit a committee of fellows and mentors to provide feedback on their applications. In addition to grant-writing, a general introduction to the overall organization of peer-reviewed funding in the United States will be provided in a course entitled “Funding for Research Activities: Basic Issues in Obtaining Support” (course M9780 coordinated by Dr. Jaime Rubin), including a basic outline of the NIH review processes and its program structures working in support of research. Finally, trainees will receive a focused overview of approaches to identifying other funding opportunities that specifically support basic research in dermatology and cutaneous biology. In addition, trainees will be mentored in both oral and written communication of their results in the form of preparation of talks and manuscripts.

In the current highly competitive research funding environment, it is essential that grant proposals are as rigorous and well developed as possible, as covered in the Grantwriting Course (above). As part of the epiCURE’s enrichment program, we have developed a workshop to allow applications to be internally reviewed prior to their submission, as a counterpart to the Grantwriting Course. Expert peer review ensures clearly articulated and feasible aims, provides new insights, and identifies areas for proposal improvement, ultimately increasing the likelihood of funding. To achieve this goal, epiCURE has developed a Mock Study Section workshop based on the highly successful template developed by Dr. Kristine Kulage and Elaine Larson in the School of Nursing. The Columbia University School of Nursing Office of Scholarship & Research Development (OSR) coordinates a two-part internal review process for planned grant and sponsored projects applications consisting of a Specific Objectives and Aims Review (SOAR) Session followed by a formal Mock Review. These sessions are highly recommend for all faculty, research scientists, pre- and post-doctoral trainees and fellows, and students submitting applications for grants or sponsored projects that have either internalor external (e.g., NIH) sources of funding. The ultimate purpose of the mock review is to obtain feedback from a friendly, supportive group to improve proposal quality before submission to the funding agency for study section review and ultimately a funding decision. This workshop will be a valuable resource for epiCURE investigators and trainees, and can incorporate a virtual Skype component to the sessions to enable the eResearch Community to engage and participate. 

Creating publication-quality figures is an essential skill that is rarely formally taught to scientists. To remedy this, the epiCURE has created an exceptionally well-received annual short course in figure-making. This covers the entire workflow behind making a figure from the acquisition of raw data through a pipeline consisting of Image J, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. This course includes instructions in fundamentals of image handling, such as dealing with bioformats, the pros and cons of different image formats, resolution, hyperstacks, color channels, lookup tables, making scale bars and ethical vs. unethical adjustments {Rossner & Yamada, 2004}. At the end of this course, participants are able to efficiently create detailed figures with graphics that are in full compliance with scientific journal standards. 

Survival Skills for Young Biomedical Investigators Workshop. This workshop will be given by Dr. Henry Sun from NYU, a member of the Research Community and a renowned scholar on scientific education (6). Dr. Sun has developed this workshop over his renowned career, and has offered it around the world. We are delighted that he will conduct this workshop as part of the epiCURE Community. The four topics covered are: Experimental Design, How to Write a Scientific Paper, How to Write a Grant, How to Give an Oral Presentation. An outline of Dr. Sun’s course may be found at workshop on Scientific methods.

This Workshop is an innovative new feature of the epiCURE developed by Dr. Angela Christiano. With the goal of exposing early, mid-career and senior faculty to practical aspects of scientific life, this Workshop will cover key topics such as Technology Transfer, Tenure and Promotions, Communications, Media Relations, Entrepreneurship, Journalism, Editing and Becoming a Chair or Dean. We have assembled an outstanding cadre of speakers from diverse backgrounds to share their wealth of experience on these and other topics. Please refer to the Events section for a full listing of upcoming speakers in this new Workshop.

This innovative course is a new feature of the epiCURE center, arising from the growing demand for fluency in computational analysis of big data among the Research Community members. Particularly, with the growing availability and demand of high-throughput human data and the activation of personalized medicine initiatives around the country, it is becoming more and more imperative for biological researchers to have training in computational methods, and for bioinformaticians to become more familiar with the biological specifics of complex disease. However, few centers offer directly integrated computational courses. Biological research training and computational training are typically handled by separate courses and departments and are tailored specifically to “biological” or “computational” students and faculty. The result is that biomedical scientists often lack the tools to meaningfully develop and interpret statistical and digital data. On the other hand, bioinformaticians may lack the nuanced knowledge of specific biological problems needed to meaningfully tailor mathematical analysis. This workshop is offered as a bridge between the two fields, covering both the methodological and conceptual perspectives implemented in modern computational and systems biology, and taught directly in the context of skin disease research. The goal of this course is to provide its attendees the training and perspective to meaningfully design and interpret bioinformatic work in the context of translational biological research. It is modeled after an existing workshop sponsored by the Women in Science at Columbia initiative, entitled ‘Women Who Code’ that was designed and presented by Dr. James Chen, a computational biologist working in Dr. Christiano’s lab.