Melanie Cushion, PhD, a professor in the division of infectious diseases, was recently appointed senior associate dean for research at the UC College of Medicine, charged with the duty to create a team to oversee all research areas and doctoral training programs within the college. Prior to this appointment, she served as associate chair of research within the department of internal medicine.
She officially began in her new role Sept. 1. Below, she talks about her vision for research at the college and the university as she moves forward.
What are your goals for research within the College of Medicine? What are some challenges you feel you might face?
"My primary goal is to improve and invigorate the research environment for investigators at the College of Medicine. I don’t see the federal funding situation improving in the near future, and we need to provide our faculty with the best possible tools and opportunities to support ongoing research, spark new ideas and innovations, and thus have the best applications going out the door.”
How do you feel your research leadership role within the department of internal medicine as well as your individual research helped prepare you for this role?
"The department of internal medicine is one of the largest departments in the college and was a great proving ground for some of the ideas I would like to port to the college. Faculty development has been proven to be strongly linked to academic and research success, and I intend to implement development and leadership initiatives to take our faculty to their next levels of excellence. My role as the program director for the NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award (UC LEAF) has increased my awareness of the importance of diversity in our faculty and student populations and of the necessity of strong mentoring for all of our faculty. I am only able to continue as a bench researcher because of the excellence of my research assistants and colleagues.
"As a researcher, I am deeply involved in preclinical drug development for anti-fungal agents and work closely with colleagues at the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy, the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the UC Department of Chemistry. I firmly believe that a broad definition of diversity, including thought, culture as well as ethnic backgrounds, improves research approaches and strategies.”
Why do you feel a role such as this is important for not only the college but the university as a whole?
"The research mission is an integral part of the tripartite mission of the college. It sets us apart from all of the other medical complexes in the region and is a major strength of our institution. I must be an advocate for all types of our research endeavors including discovery, translational, clinical, outcomes and social sciences. Without a strong pipeline at every point, the mission will suffer. We must be smart about how we direct our limited resources and create interdisciplinary teams that link all 13 of our colleges together. The university has a wealth of talent among its faculty and I would like to focus on aggregating individuals to build teams and programs that reside outside the box and silos.”
Cushion would like to hear from you. If you have a suggestion or question, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.