Council Minutes for December 2011:

Persons in Attendence:

Vijay Pandyarajan, Meredith Whitney, Tom Richardson, Zach Nevin, Kirkland Wilson, Abner Murray, Anna Henry, DaShawn Hickman, Pam Marcott, Heather Connelly, Marisa Winkler, Tony Scott, Paul Lin, Bryan Benson, Alex McMillan, Gloria Tavera, Cliff Harding



December 13, 2011



1.     General Council Announcements

2.     Summer Retreat

3.     Winter Retreat

4.     Student guides for interviewees

5.     Social committee

6.     Communications

7.     Womenís group

8.     Faculty Council

9.     Community Service

10.  Rep to GSS

11.  Rep to CME

12.  Intro to MSTP

13.  Rep to BGSO


Committee Reports


General council items:

Vijay reminded students to be respectful when sending emails to the MSTP mailing list, and that Council-specific issues can be sent directly to the executive committee.  Cliff also reminded that both general information and specific notes can be sent to Kathy for her to include in the regular newsletter.  Vijay also mentioned where to find Council meeting minutes on the website.


Summer retreat committee:

Vijay confirmed with Council that Punderson has been selected as our venue, and Kathy is working on booking the facilities.  The main focus for Council now is ranking the keynote speaker choices and beginning to send invitations.


Vijay asked if people have any opinions to share on the speaker list.  Paul offered a few comments as a BME student.  Among the top choices, Robert Langer is a good speaker but is always busy and spoke at Case three or four years ago.  David Mooney is also good but was here recently, within the past year, and Joseph Vicanti is also a prominent researcher.  Anna also reminded Council that BME Prof. Eben Alsberg, with Dan Altís help, has volunteered to help us invite speakers.  Meredith also reminded that we can have good luck in getting busy faculty to agree to give the keynote.  Pam said that Anthony Atala also does excellent and interesting research and has been featured in the news for his work.  Cliff proposed some interesting and active researchers who are also MD/PhD program directors, who he thought would be good for the keynote.  Zach also noted that most of the faculty on the proposed list are basic science researchers, and suggested we consider an ethics talk as well, and suggested Insoo Hyun, now a Case faculty member.  Cliff favors this idea, noting that MSTP has done ethics workshops in prior summer retreats and that regular ethics talks help build the program.  Meredith noted the need to demonstrate research ethics activities on individual fellowship applications as well.


Council voted on the ranking of the potential speakers.  Council favors, in order: Joseph Vacanti, Anthony Atala, Robert Langer, Dianna Milewicz, and Larry Schlesinger as the top 5, including votes from people who could not attend Council.  These five are followed by Jennifer West, Robert Sah, and Kerry OíBanion in no ranked order, and Council will reevaluate and decide which order to invite these three speakers later if needed.


Gloria reported that CFAR secured funding to have Sandeep Kishore to come talk to our summer retreat as an invited speaker for a workshop.  He can speak on several topics including malaria, global health, access to essential medicines, or political activism.  Vijay stated that the summer retreat program is still in planning, and that we will accommodate him on the speaker schedule.  Cliff stated that the usual retreat program includes a program update in morning, keynote address in midday, and afternoon workshops and Case faculty speakers.  The rest of meeting needs to have other Case faculty talks, workshops, and student talks.  This year we can include the Sandeep Kishore as a guest student talk and potentially have an ethics talk from Insoo Hyun.  Cliff also stated that the summer retreat committee members will should send the keynote speaker invites, and that Kathy can provide a template letter.  In this case, the summer retreat committee should initiate the invitation and copy Eben Alsberg, then allow him to reply and help secure a keynote speaker.  Zach suggested that we invite Eben Alsberg to give a faculty talk in thanks for his help in planning this retreat.  Cliff offered that depending on the choice of keynote, doing so could lead to too many BME faculty talks, but that he would support such a programmatic invitation if Ebenís research complements our keynote.  Cliff defers to the summer retreat committee.


Next, Council discussed potential combined MD/PhD retreat ideas for future years.  Gloria reported that current inter-MD/PhD networking opportunities include the national MD/PhD meeting in Colorado, regional meetings such as APSA in Chicago, and new ideas of doing a regional school meeting with OSU, Michigan, Pitt, and possibly Toledo, or doing a joint retreat with one nearby program.  DaShawn added that any joint meeting with our MSTP and other programs would still include our own sessions specific to the program, and supplement with jointly organized speaker sessions.  Gloria and DaShawn favor a joint meeting that includes all CWRU MSTP students over nominating one or a few individuals to participate in a MSTP exchange.  Cliff stated that there is precedence and budget to cover joint meetings and inter-MSTP travel, since the program helped cover a recent regional APSA meeting in Columbus.  Cliff also stated that a joint summer retreat would include all members of the program, and stated that Larry Schlesinger, OSU MSTP director, liked the idea but that he would have to discuss it further with their student body.  A potential venue for a joint CWRU/OSU retreat would be Mohican State Park, and Meredith added that there are also nice potential venues in between if we choose to do a joint retreat with Michigan. Cliff stated that if we proceed with this plan it would connect smoothly to our usual summer retreat planning efforts.  One issue is that we are constrained in our timing of the summer retreat due to the early start date for M1 students, essentially limited to the first week of July; further, Cliff has had the most interactions with the OSU MSTP rather than the Michigan program, but both programs could be approached for doing a joint event.  Heather liked the idea of a joint retreat, but was concerned about minimizing the M1 bonding aspect of the summer retreat.  Marisa agreed, stating that summer retreat is an important time for students to relax and reconnect at all stages of the program.  Tony also liked the idea of some form of regional summit, stating that similar efforts have been successful including several programs in New York.  Meredith favored a joint retreat over a large regional meeting since more students would benefit from the inter-program networking with a joint retreat.  Cliff inquired whether APSA is planning any regional meeting for the near future, and where any APSA meeting would be held, since a Chicago regional APSA for example does not help serve our goals of getting the entire CWRU MSTP to travel to meet with another program jointly.  Cliff would like something close so we can have more students attend.  Heather offered that we could launch a regional joint program with OSU due to proximity and a standing relationship with that program, and then invite more programs in future years.  Paul raised the issue of finding a venue in proximity to all the regional MD/PhD programs sufficient for a meeting of that size.  Anna asked whether a joint retreat had to be during summer, or if we could consider a joint winter retreat.  Zach suggested we invite another school to our standing winter retreat, and offer some of their students the opportunity to speak and present.  Cliff replied that the winter retreat focuses on student scientific presentations and the keynote, and that every student gets to present, either in the poster session or short talk.  Summer retreat has been more focused on professional development and programmatic functions, with some science as well as socializing and recreation.  Gloria also stated a practical budget issue, since it would be difficult for another program to pay to attend our winter meeting.  Meredith brought up another issue that the winter retreat one-day program schedule is already full, and that there is not much room to add presentations from another MSTP.  Since Council overall favored the idea of doing a joint retreat, Vijay stated that he would get in touch with OSU and Michigan student leadership.  Meredith confirmed that we should find out if there is any upcoming regional APSA, and get in touch with OSU.  Cliff reminded that the other MSTP for our joint retreat would have to be amenable to our dates, which may impact which program we approach for executing this plan.


Winter retreat:

Vijay reported that Leslie Webster has agreed to speak.  Dr. Webster also wanted to invite Ann Goodridge to speak, as she also made contributions to our program.  Vijay has also been in touch with the keynote speaker Peter Arvan, and reported that he is still coming but his logistics have not yet been finalized.  Cliff said that in his experience, guest speakers from Michigan often have the best luck with driving to Case.  Cliff also asked to have Kathy send Dr. Arvanís schedule, to coordinate his faculty meetings with himself and other Case researchers.


Interviewing and Recruiting:

Vijay reported that Kathy and Bart are enthusiastic about having students help applicants find their way to interviews and appointments.  He suggested a system where MSTP volunteers who already works in a given building sign up to help an applicant in this regard.  Council favors this idea.  Additionally, Cliff wanted to share anecdotally that the applicants have really enjoyed their visits this year, and that he appreciates the efforts of all the current students.  Anna mentioned an issue that recent MSTP/CCLCM interviewees were not able to secure CCLCM overnight hosts, and whether MSTP could help find MSTP overnight hosts for these students if they have difficulty.  Cliff stated that the rationale for Thursday night CCLCM hosts is that CCLCM wants the same opportunities we have to recruit for their program through use of overnight hosts.  MSTP has compromised so that the usual day-and-a-half schedule is compressed to one day, to give CCLCM their full day interview program.  MSTP has agreed on a programmatic plan that the applicant is handed off to the CCLCM interview program on Thursday, starting with the CCLCM overnight host stay.  Cliff offered that if our MSTP applicants are having continual difficulty arranging a CCLCM host, due to a problem recruiting hosts for that program, that perhaps the MSTP could include standard language on our joint MSTP/CCLCM visit packets that applicants without a place to stay with a CCLCM student should let MSTP know ASAP about the problem.


Social Committee:

Gloria reported that Maritza recently found a Groupon from Crash Combat for a combined laser tag and paintball party, and that perhaps this company would be willing to do a group rate for us in February.  This would likely replace the previous plan to do whirlyball, and still depends on how much money is left over after the recruiting season.  Kirkland reminded about the holiday party on 12/14 at 6 p.m., and announced that the dessert competition will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes.  He also reminded to bring a white elephant gift. Rules for gift exchange are to be decided, but should be similar to last year with gift stealing permissible.  Dress for the party will be casual.  Tony reminded that there is a $15 limit for the white elephant.


Communications committee:

Emily is looking for volunteers to contact accepted applicants; people who are interested should contact her.


Womenís group:

The womenís group recently had a meeting to plan future activities, and is looking for a good mentor for the year.  The womenís group will also be doing a cookie or gingerbread bake sometime in January.


Representative to Faculty Council:

Zach stated that there is no new business directly pertinent to MSTP, but reported that Dean Davis announced an inquiry into possible reorganization of School of Medicine departments.  This reorganization could affect MSTP later in terms of where labs are located, both within academic departments and physically on campus.  Faculty Council also discussed issues relating to hiring new faculty and developing salary offers, which are open for public reading and interest.  Tony was worried about how the recent renaming of the Genetics department relates to the proposed reorganization.  Cliff stated that his impression is that no graduate programs that currently have MSTP students enrolled would be affected by these changes.


Community Service:

Alex reported that MSTP recently participated in a joint event with School of Medicine students, tutoring at a local community church.  The event had a small turnout.  She is planning another event for February.


Representative to GSS:

Bryan called for any issues to be brought up that he could bring before the GSS.  He is currently working on health care, and looking at options for improving our coverage, including a national buy-in or a joint plan with CSU (though CSU was not too interested since their plan is better than ours).  Bryan cites major issues with CWRU student insurance as the 20% coinsurance and a lack of 100% covered services through University Health Service.  Cliff suggested we do a comparative analysis of peer institution health plans, to provide evidence to University administration that our plan is lacking compared to programs of similar size.


Representative to BGSO:

This year, a new research symposium is being planned for all CWRU grad students instead of Research ShowCASE.  Applications are due January 30.  BGSO is doing its own student symposium on May 9.  BGSO is also planning a professional development series including workshops on using Endnote and grant writing.  On January 22 there will be a community service project at Homeless Stand Down for those who are interested.


Action items:


Vijay will contact Ohio State University and University of Michigan MSTP student leadership to gauge interest in a joint retreat.  Vijay will contact Kathy to finalize the schedule of Leslie Websterís winter retreat talk (possibly after the introductory lecture).


Gloria and DaShawn will contact APSA to find out about a potential regional meeting, including both dates and location.


Next MSTP Council meeting: Tuesday January 10, 5:45 p.m.


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