School of Medicine

‘Think tank’ workshops highlight Clinical Translational Research Day

Dr. Frank Meyskens also honored with Clinical Translational Scientist Career Achievement Award

“Think tank” workshops focusing on young adult autism care and the intersection of justice and science highlighted this year’s Clinical Translational Research Day June 3 at UC Irvine Student Center. Hosted by the Institute for Clinical & Translational Science, the public event drew hundreds of campus and community members who shared ideas on promising methods of building bridges that connect research to community action – the very heart of what translational research is all about.

Thomas Insell, director of Clinical Neuroscience at Verily Life Sciences The day’s activities kicked off with keynote speaker, Dr. Thomas Insell, director of Clinical Neuroscience at Verily (formerly Google) Life Sciences and previous director of the National Institute of Mental Health. His talk focused on “Brain Disorders: Mind the Gap.”

Following Dr. Insell’s morning address, the first think-tank workshop – “Transition to Independence: The Looming Crisis for Autism – Affected Children, Adults, Families, Caregivers and Society” – provided an opportunity for community leaders, scientists, patients, employers, health care professionals and others to collaboratively brainstorm the considerable challenges facing us all with providing continued support for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In the afternoon – after a luncheon and a poster session – a panel including Orange County Superior Court judges Erick L. Larsh and Fred Slaughter discussed the growing role of biomedical research in our justice system in “Where the Rubber Hits and Road: Justice and Science in Orange County Superior Courts. Specifically, this think-tank workshop focused on preventing abuse and neglect, and featured UC Irvine Health geriatricians Dr. Kerry Burnight and Dr. Lisa Gibbs.

Afterward, the ICTS awards dinner honored “People Who Make a Difference in Human Health.” This year’s recipients were: 

Clinical Translational Scientist Career Achievement Award

Dr. Frank Meyskens, the founding director of UC Irvine Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center, the Daniel Aldrich Jr. Chair and professor of medicine, biological chemistry, public health and epidemiology. Under his guidance, the number of biologists, engineers, oncologists and other faculty researching cancer treatment and prevention has doubled to about 200, grant dollars have more than quadrupled, and the number of cancer patients being treated at UC Irvine has increased considerably.

Junior Investigator of the Year

Dr. Aaron Esser-Kahn, UC Irvine assistant professor of chemistry. His research is focused on the specific selection and tuning of immune responses, and he is developing this platform for clinical application for vaccines against Q-Fever.

Robert Newcomb Interdisciplinary Team Science Award

The 90+ Study team, led by Dr. Claudia Kawas, the Nichols Term Chair in Neuroscience, and Dr. Maria Corrada, associate professor of neurology. The UC Irvine-based study is the nation’s largest of the oldest-old, the fastest-growing age group in the U.S.

Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award

Dr. Lorraine Evangelista, professor and senior associate director for academic affairs for UC Irvine Program in Nursing Science. As a faculty liaison to the Division of Teaching and Learning, she promotes Center for Engaged Instruction activities and mentors faculty who want to engage in teaching learning enhancements. 

Outstanding Academic Community Research Award

Dr. Frank Zaldivar, UC Irvine project scientist who launched the Getting Residents Engaged in Exercise and Nutrition (GREEN) project in collaboration with key Santa Ana school, city institutions and UC Irvine’s Pediatric Exercise Research Center PRIME-LC-medical students.

Outstanding Community Research Award

Alyce Mastrianni, the director of program development and evaluation for the Children and Families Commission of Orange County. Her expertise supported continual achievement of positive health outcomes for children by developing strategies and major projects based on sound, objective information.

Tom Vacish / UC Irvine Strategic Communications