Inspirational lectures regarding research infrastructures

Lectures on research infrastructures and core facility career development

Last year Prof. Philip Hockberger, Associate Vice-President for Research (Northwestern Univ., Chicago), visited Turku Bioscience and gave two lectures on how to build sustainable research infrastructures and on the career paths and career possibilities of core facility personnel.

As not everybody could attend these lectures and it has been a while since these lectures were presented, we feature these lectures on our blog pages along with Prof. Hockberger’s comments on these videos to provide an inspirational start of the new year.

With this, we wish you a Happy  New Year 2021!

Lecture on a Sustainable Model for Research Infrastructures

Comments by Prof. Hockberger

Interest in utilizing new technologies to address long-standing research problems influenced my thesis research (1976-1982), continued during my postdoc years (1982-1987), and created a dilemma during my tenure-track appointment (1987-1993). Tenure decisions require faculty to make original contributions to their scientific discipline measured by high-profile publications, successful grant-writing, and promotion of graduate students and postdocs. Creating and developing new technologies was not a proven strategy for tenure in a medical school. Nevertheless, my school and university took a chance and promoted me with tenure in 1993. Over the next few years, I struggled with how to meet their continuing expectations. I found collaborations to be more enjoyable than an independent research program, and I found the research questions of my colleagues exciting and challenging. It was not difficult for me to see how technologies that I was working on could help their research programs. After several successful collaborations (most notably with Prof’s Kevin Healy and Francis Szele), these collaborations did not bring the type of professional success that comes with an independent research program.

While collaborations like these were funded by grants (the standard financial model at the time), it became clear to me that a fee-based model offered some clear advantages for facilitating collaborations. In fact, it seemed that there were many technologies that could benefits from this model. Thus, in 2009, I agreed to become the first Director of Core Facilities at Northwestern University, and led the effort to convert many of our technology-based laboratories to a fee-for-service model. During the next decade, my team developed performance metrics and sustainable business plans that enabled Northwestern to become one of the leading institutions world-wide for advancing this model of core facilities. I’ve published papers on core-related topics, presented seminars, consulted, and served on several national and international committees to help promote this work. Currently, I serve on the FASEB Shared Research Resources Task Force to assess the current landscape and identify policy recommendations for investigators, institutions, and federal agencies.

The above video provides a model for how to build a sustainable portfolio of research (core) facilities at a Tier 1 university.

Lecture on the importance of Career Development


Comments by Prof. Hockberger:

Another passion of mine is the career development of the people who manage and work in core facilities, especially directors and managers. This career path requires special training, skills, and experiences that are not part of typical graduate and postdoctoral programs. This video describes institutional, regional, and national efforts to fill this gap at a Tier 1 university.