Friday, August 22, 2014

Slaugenhaupt named scientific director of MGH Research Institute


Susan Slaugenhaupt, PhD, of the MGH Center for Human Genetic Research and professor in the Department of Neurology, has been named the first scientific director of the MGH Research Institute. Appointed through a formal selection process, Slaugenhaupt was recognized for her innovation, energy and dedication to the field.

"Sue has a broad exposure to all the different facets of research at the MGH and has been a terrific citizen of the research community," says Harry Orf, senior vice president for Research and member of the scientific director search committee. "Her enthusiasm is genuine and contagious – something that will serve the Research Institute well."

Launching in 2015, The Research Institute will serve as an umbrella to all research at the MGH, reaffirming the hospital's commitment to the enterprise. The institute's goal is to better integrate the research and clinical missions, increase engagement with both patients and industry, and increase the overall visibility of research within the hospital. As director of the Research Institute, Slaugenhaupt will work directly with current hospital leadership to help devise and implement these goals, as well as increase research funding.

"We wanted someone with a broad range of basic, translational and clinical research expertise," says Robert Kingston, PhD, chief of MGH Molecular Biology and chair of the Executive Committee on Research. "Blending these research spheres is part of an important paradigm for how biomedical research will work in the future – Sue and her work embody that model."

Slaugenhaupt’s career spans 22 years as an advocate for rare disease research with a unique focus on two neurological disorders – familial dysautonomia (FD) and mucolipidosis type IV. Discoveries in her lab have led to the successful implementation of critical population screening for both disorders and to the development of a treatment for FD. In addition to her extensive groundbreaking research, Slaugenhaupt spearheaded several programs and educational initiatives at the MGH. She co-directs the Genetics and Genomics Unit of the MGH Clinical Research Program and The Harvard Catalyst, as well as the Partners Biobank, an initiative aimed at speeding the translation of research discoveries into improved clinical care for MGH patients.

"I’m very excited about my appointment as scientific director of the Research Institute," says Slaugenhaupt. "I have been working for years to improve the research environment at the MGH, and I am thrilled that the MGH has devoted significant resources to create the institute. I look forward to working with the entire research community to build a strong institute that will ultimately increase research funding for our investigators and speed the translation of research discoveries."

Slaugenhaupt will begin her duties as director Sept. 1 and plans to continue her research program on FD and related rare genetic diseases.

Read more articles from the 08/22/14 Hotline issue.

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