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Research at Mass General
What's the "problem" with your research? Plus, the hidden victims of traumatic brain injury and new insights into acute myeloid leukemia.
Have you ever dropped everything to work out the knots in a tangled pair of headphones? Or stopped to watch someone trying to fit their car into a tiny parking space?
People are problem-solvers by nature. If we notice something out of place, we want to fix it. When someone tackles a new challenge, we’re curious to see if they succeed. That’s why game shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune have been on the air for decades.
How does this relate to research at Mass General? Simply put, people are captivated by the process of solving problems, and research is full of problems to be solved. Tapping into this is a great way to promote your work and make stronger connections with grant reviewers, collaborators, donors and the general public.
For example, consider the Significance section of an NIH grant. In the NIH’s own words, the first question reviewers should consider when reading this section is, “Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?”
If you can clearly define the problem you are working on and explain how your approach to solving it is unique, your grant has a better chance of standing out from the pack.
It sounds easy, but it’s harder than you think. When we spend so much time thinking about the details of our work, it’s easy to forget the big picture.
Ready to try out the problem-first approach? Here are two ways we can help you get started:
We need to know more about your research so we can help you engage with industry partners, potential donors and our fundraising and commercialization teams. This one-page form asks you to tell us about a problem you are working on and how you are trying to solve it. Download the form
We’re looking for some talented science communicators to represent Mass General in a competition with Brigham and Women's Hospital at the Cambridge Science Festival this April! Whether you apply for a chance to present your work or sign up for a (free!) seat in the audience, this fun and friendly competition will get you thinking about how to use the problem-first approach to capture the attention of your audience.
Until next month,
Sue Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD Scientific Director, Mass General Research Institute
What typically comes to mind when you think of someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?
An athlete who plays a contact sport such as football or hockey, perhaps? Someone who has served in the military? The victim of a car accident?
While it’s certainly true that these are likely candidates for TBIs, one Massachusetts General Hospital researcher has identified an often-overlooked segment of the population that frequently suffers repeated TBIs—women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV).
Eve Valera, PhD, an investigator at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging was part of a two-person team that recently completed the first-ever study of TBIs resulting from physically abusive relationships.
What they found may be cause for a global public health concern.
How do you stop a deadly case of arrested development?
That question is what prompted a six-year pursuit into the mechanisms underlying acute myeloid leukemia (AML) for David Sykes, MD, PhD, David Scadden, MD, and a team of collaborators from Massachusetts General Hospital, the Broad Institute, Bayer Pharma and the University of New Mexico.
The results of that work—which identifies how the normal process of white blood cell maturation is disrupted in AML and points to a potential treatment target—could soon result in better outcomes for this highly fatal disease.
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