October 7, 2015

MBL Celebration of Discovery to Focus on Research and Education Partnerships and Opportunities

UChicago Innovation Fund Now Accepting Applications for Spring 2015



Fund Open to Resident MBL Faculty

The University of Chicago has built an array of programs to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that can help researchers navigate the path toward commercialization and overcome the hurdles to attracting investment. These programs include the Chicago Innovation Exchange, The New Venture Challenge, accelerator and incubator programs, and the University of Chicago Innovation Fund.

About the Innovation Fund
The Innovation Fund is a philanthropic proof-of-concept fund created to support the evolution of your ideas into products and services. The Fund has now been expanded to $20 million dollars and is open to current UChicago and affiliated lab faculty, staff, and students with technologies in a wide variety of industries.

Applications are due via electronic submission by Thursday, March 12th.

Apply Now!

The Innovation Fund is intended to provide proof-of-concept funding for technologies / concepts which:

  • are submitted by a current University of Chicago Principal Investigator, student, affiliate (including national labs), or their representative,
  • possess the potential to have a substantial commercial impact but are too early to attract commercial investment,
  • and cannot be funded through existing granting mechanisms.

It is not intended to fund research / activities that are not directly driving towards an externally validated business outcome.

If you have any questions, contact Jason Pariso, The Director of Operations (jpariso@uchicago.edu), or Wolfgang Connell, Chicago Innovation Exchange Program Manager (wolfgangc16@uchicago.edu).

— The Innovation Fund Team



New Assistant Director for Education Programs Appointed

Beth-Simmons-HeadshotBeth Simmons has been appointed Assistant Director for Education Programs. In this newly created role, Simmons will serve as an education science and program liaison between the MBL and the University of Chicago. She will work closely with both institutions’ staff and scientists to support and enable the offering of new programs in light of the MBL’s current education portfolio and commitments.

Among Simmons’ responsibilities will be to ensure new affiliation education programs run smoothly, deliver a consistently high quality educational experience to participants, and support the well-being of students. She will report directly to Dr. Neil Shubin, Senior Advisor to the President and Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor of Anatomy, University of Chicago and will be working closely with William Reznikoff, MBL Director for Education and his team. Simmons will be located in Woods Hole. Her office will be alongside MBL’s Education department.

Simmons brings a wealth of education programming experience to this role. She was previously the Education & Outreach Coordinator for the National Science Foundation’s Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Station, the Lead Primary Investigator for the LTER Education Digital Library Project, and has been an education consultant to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Ocean Carbon & Biogeochemistry Project. Earlier in her career Simmons served as an oceanography and biology teacher in various high schools in the New England and Southern California areas.

First MBL-UChicago Retreat Explores New Ideas for Joint Research and Programs

Attendees pose for a group shot during the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL)-University of Chicago Retreat at the Biological Sciences Learning Center on the UChicago campus on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 in Chicago.  (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

Attendees pose for a group shot during the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL)-University of Chicago Retreat at the Biological Sciences Learning Center on the UChicago campus on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 in Chicago. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

By Diana Kenney

An energized group of 240 scientists, faculty members and students from the Marine Biological Laboratory and the University of Chicago, including the Argonne National Laboratory, came together at the University campus in Chicago recently to explore a broad range of ideas for joint scientific research and educational programming.

The MBL-UChicago Retreat on February 8-10 was the largest joint scientific meeting since the two institutions launched their formal affiliation in July 2013. It sparked excitement and animated discussions among researchers who got to know their colleagues through panel sessions, “lightning talks,” roundtables, chats during breaks, and spontaneous side meetings.

View a slideshow
of the retreat here
Download a pdf of the retreat program here

“There is so much energy around the affiliation, and intellectual vigor to make it work. It’s wonderful to see the exchange of ideas and exuberance emerge,” said Neil Shubin, Robert R. Bensley Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and Senior Advisor to the President and Vice President for Research and National Laboratories at the University of Chicago.

Shubin leads a faculty advisory committee that is charged with fostering scientific collaboration between the two institutions and developing the affiliation through research and education initiatives such as workshops, courses, student fellowships, program seed funding, joint appointments, or shared facilities.

The MBL-University of Chicago Faculty Advisory Committee

Neil Shubin (Chair), Organismal Biology and Anatomy

Joy M. Bergelson, Ecology and Evolution

Juan de Pablo, Institute for Molecular Engineering

Richard Fehon, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology

Jack Gilbert, Argonne National Laboratory

Conrad Gilliam, Human Genetics and Dean, Biological Sciences Division Research

Jonathan Gitlin, MBL Deputy Director for Research and Programs

William N. Green, Neurobiology

Melina Hale, Organismal Biology and Anatomy

David Jablonski, Geophysical Sciences

Victoria Prince, Organismal Biology and Anatomy

Joan Ruderman, MBL President and Director

Rick Stevens, Argonne National Laboratory

Brian Clark (Staff), Associate Director for Operations and Planning, Office of the Executive Vice President

Rénu Kulkarni (Staff), AVP for Strategic Initiatives and Affiliation Operational Lead

The retreat was one step in an ongoing process of discussion and engagement that will result in creating meaningful programs that capitalize on the affiliates’  complementary strengths, and have lasting value for their student and research communities, Shubin said. A second retreat will be held on the MBL’s campus in Woods Hole, Mass., on May 3-4.

Participants said the retreat delivered on the promise of bringing researchers at MBL and UChicago closer together. “The spirit of collaboration is here,” said Zhe-Xi Luo, a professor of organismal biology and anatomy at UChicago.

“Where we go from today is up to all of you,” said Jonathan Gitlin, Deputy Director for Research and Programs at the MBL, to the many students and post-docs at the retreat. “I urge you to take this opportunity— with a brilliant University with limitless intellectual capital and an extraordinary place of discovery like the MBL—and become part of our conversation, drive us forward, change the world.”

The first morning’s program was designed to better familiarize the affiliation partners with each other. MBL President and Director Joan Ruderman gave an overview of the MBL and its three intersecting parts: advanced summer courses; resident research in biological and environmental sciences; and visiting research conducted by investigators from a host of universities and institutions worldwide.

“The MBL is one of the few places in the world that provides lab space, housing, and other support to a large number of researchers from different universities, to catalyze and enhance scientific collaboration,” Ruderman said.  She outlined ways in which students and scientists from the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory can take advantage of new and existing opportunities at MBL.

Shared research values

John W. Boyer, Dean of the College at UChicago, described the historical development of the culture of learning at the University, distinguished by its rigorous core undergraduate program, dual faculty appointments between the divisions and the College, a tradition of strong interdisciplinary cooperation among departments, and a flexible quarter system to allow time for creative and investigative sabbaticals.

“MBL seems to have a culture of risk taking: if something doesn’t work, try something else. Chicago faculty are also like that,” Boyer said. “They are empowered to follow their noses in research.” The institutions also share core values of interdisciplinary research and collaboration, he said.

The ingredients that power the MBL’s renowned research-immersion courses were the topic of talks by former Physiology course co-director Ron Vale of HHMI/University of California, San Francisco, and MBL Director of Education Bill Reznikoff.

“We create an intense, collaborative, interdisciplinary environment in the courses centered around solving real research problems,” Vale said. While publications are not an emphasis or goal of the courses, students often continue to collaborate with faculty on projects started in a course and eventually end up with a research publication, he said. “Many students are literally crying at the end of the summer because they have to leave this special environment that they and the faculty have created to explore the joy of doing science.”

Developing new avenues for growth

Participants discussed undergraduate research and diversity initiatives, and faculty members pitched creative ideas for new courses. Next, five-minute “lightning talks” on current research at the University and the MBL yielded fruitful questions and conversation.

In an effort to capture the growing flood of ideas in the room, Mark Westneat, professor of organismal biology and anatomy, encouraged everyone to submit their favorite idea on a Post-It note or via Twitter. These were sorted and posted at an “Idea Mutator” reception in the afternoon.

An illustrated talk on the rich history of collaboration between the MBL and UChicago was given at dinner by Jane Maienschein, the Regent’s, President’s, and Parents Association Professor at Arizona State University and adjunct senior scientist at the MBL.

The second day of the retreat was devoted to a deeper exploration of how the scientists at the two institutions can collaborate effectively. After a discussion of core shared-use facilities on each campus, the attendees chose thematic roundtables. Enthusiastic conversations began to crystallize as “big ideas” and potential projects, and participants passed on their ideas for consideration by the affiliation’s faculty advisory committee over the next few weeks.

“I have never been to a meeting that was so broad,” said Karl Matlin, professor of surgery at University of Chicago and a member of the retreat planning committee.  “We are only two institutions, but it seems like 1+1=1,000 when we come together. That is the beauty of this affiliation.”

Shubin said the ideas from the lightning talks and roundtables showed the affiliation’s immense potential. Now his objective is to keep that conversation going and make the potential real.

“This affiliation is yours,” Shubin said to the gathering. “Your ideas, your teaching, your research programs will define it.”

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer to serve as Chairman of Marine Biological Laboratory Board of Trustees

Contact: Gina Hebert
(508) 289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer will serve as the next Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Marine Biological Laboratory. This proposed step was met with unanimous support at the MBL Board’s meeting on November 2, 2013. His term will begin after the Board’s April 2014 meeting. He succeeds Jack Rowe, who has served as Board Chairman since May 2006.

Acting with the advice of the MBL Board, Zimmer also appointed David B. Fithian, University of Chicago Vice President and Secretary, as Secretary of the MBL Corporation. In addition, University of Chicago Executive Vice President David A. Greene was named to the MBL Board this past August along with Eric D. Isaacs, Director of Argonne National Laboratory, and John McCarter Jr., an Emeritus Trustee of the University. Greene, who will become President of Colby College in July 2014, will remain on the 33-member MBL Board.

Under the affiliation between the MBL and the University of Chicago, the President of the University is responsible for appointing MBL Board members, with advice from current members. Following the November meeting, newly appointed members of the Board of Trustees were announced: Edward P. Owens, retired partner of Wellington Management Company LLC, and William T. Speck, Professor of Pediatrics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“President Zimmer is a powerful advocate for the MBL,” said MBL President and Director Joan V. Ruderman. “Under his leadership, the Board of Trustees will preserve and enrich the MBL’s world-renowned research and educational programs and expand our role as an intellectual destination. His personal experience in providing university leadership for Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab also will be a tremendous asset as we implement this new affiliation between the MBL and the University of Chicago.”

Zimmer said the MBL is in an excellent position to build upon its broad impact on innovation and education in the biological sciences. “I am deeply grateful to Jack Rowe for his strong leadership and for his partnership as we planned the historic affiliation between these institutions,” Zimmer said. “We will continue to advance the values of creative collaboration that have always sustained the MBL and the University of Chicago.”

The MBL is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution. In July 2013, the MBL formed an affiliation with the University of Chicago. The affiliation strengthens both institutions’ missions of leadership and innovation in scientific research and education. It also builds on shared values and historical ties between Chicago and the MBL, which was led by University of Chicago faculty members Charles O. Whitman and Frank R. Lillie for the first four decades of its existence.

About the new Trustees:

Robert J. Zimmer
Robert J. Zimmer became the 13th President of the University of Chicago on July 1, 2006. Prior to his appointment as President, Zimmer was a University of Chicago faculty member and administrator for more than two decades specializing in the mathematical fields of geometry, Lie groups, and differential geometry. As a University of Chicago administrator, Zimmer served as Chairman of the Mathematics Department, Deputy Provost, and Vice President for Research and for Argonne National Laboratory. He also served as Provost at Brown University from 2002 to 2006, returning to Chicago in 2006 to become President of the University. As President of the University, he serves as Chair of the Board of Governors of Argonne National Laboratory and Chair of the Board of Directors of Fermi Research Alliance LLC, the operator of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He is a member of the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation, and also served on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science from 2008 to 2010. He is on the executive committee of the Council on Competitiveness and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. President Zimmer earned his A.B. from Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University. He joined the Chicago faculty in 1977. He was also on the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy from 1975 to 1977 and has held visiting positions at Harvard University and at institutions in Israel, France, Australia, Switzerland, and Italy.

Edward P. Owens
Edward P. Owens is a retired partner of Wellington Management Company LLC, where he spent thirty-eight years researching and investing in life science and chemical industry companies. He managed the mutual fund Vanguard Health Care Fund for twenty-eight years from its inception until his retirement. Mr. Owens now serves on the boards of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc., the University of Virginia College Foundation, and the Wellington Management Foundation.  He holds a B.S. in Physics from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Harvard University.  He also served as an officer in the nuclear submarine service of the U.S. Navy.

William T. Speck, M.D.
William T. Speck is a Professor of Pediatrics at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was the MBL’s Director and Chief Executive Officer from 2001 to 2006. He is a member of the MBL Society and served on the Laboratory’s Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2000, when he joined the MBL staff as Interim Director and CEO. Dr. Speck received a B.A. from Rutgers University and a M.D. from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Speck has held appointments in both the Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, where he directed the Division of Infectious Diseases.  He is the former Chief Executive Officer of Cleveland-based Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and President and CEO of the Presbyterian Hospital. Speck currently sits on the boards of Gill St. Bernard’s School, Hadassah Medical Organization, and Citymeals-on-Wheels.

Other members of the Class of 2017 include Paul R. Dupee, Haddeo Partners, LLP; Caroline S. Harwood, University of Washington; and Ethan A. Lerner, Massachusetts General Hospital.

About the Secretary of the MBL Corporation:

David B. Fithian
As Vice President and Secretary of the University of Chicago, David Fithian promotes, facilitates, and supports governance practices across the University and directly manages certain governing boards and advisory bodies.  He is the officer with primary responsibility for coordinating the work of the Board of Trustees in Chicago, in other cities in the United States, and at University facilities abroad.   In collaboration with the deans, Fithian provides central administrative support for the University’s Visiting Committee Program; Visiting Committees, which are appointed by the Board of Trustees, pair civic and business leaders with Divisions, Schools, and some academic departments, for advice, advocacy, and philanthropic support. In addition, Fithian oversees the Office of University Events and Ceremonies and is the custodian of the University seal and mace. He also facilitates the appointment and work of the University Marshal. Fithian serves as president of the Board of Directors of the University’s Quadrangle Club and is also a trustee of Court Theatre, and a director of Chapin Hall.  Before coming to Chicago in June 2007, Fithian served as Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, where he also served as Secretary of the Faculty.  Before that, he served in a number of other administrative positions at Harvard, including Assistant Dean of Harvard College and Secretary of the Administrative Board of Harvard College. Fithian received his B.A. from Clark University and his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Yale University.


The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution and an affiliate of the University of Chicago.

Marine Biological Laboratory Trustees Elect Three New Members

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Contact: Gina Hebert
508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—The Trustees of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) elected three new members at their meeting on August 2.  They are David A. Greene, University of Chicago; Eric D. Isaacs, Argonne National Laboratory; and John W. McCarter, Jr., The Field Museum.

“Our new Trustees bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Board, with impressive records of accomplishment in strategic leadership and scientific innovation,” said Board Chairman John W. Rowe. “My fellow Trustees and I look forward to working with David Greene, Eric Isaacs, and John McCarter as the MBL embarks on exciting new collaborations with the University of Chicago.”

The MBL is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution. The MBL and the University of Chicago formed an affiliation in July 2013 designed to strengthen both institutions’ missions of research and education.|

About the new Trustees:

David A. Greene
As Executive Vice President of the University of Chicago, David Greene is the senior officer in charge of integrating the University’s strategic initiatives, planning, and implementation across a broad array of departments and units. His work crosses a number of institutional functions, including financial strategy and data research, real estate development, campus master planning, external relations, federal relations, the University’s growing set of activities around the world, and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.  Greene is currently President-elect of Colby College.  His new appointment will take effect on July 1, 2014.

Eric D. Isaacs
Physicist Eric D. Isaacs is the Director of Argonne National Laboratory, one of the nation’s largest science and engineering research centers. Under his leadership, Argonne’s researchers are tackling the grand scientific and engineering challenges of our time, with a focus on developing sustainable energy technologies. A Professor of Physics in the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago, Dr. Isaacs began his career at Bell Laboratories, where he served as director of the Materials Physics Research and Semiconductor Physics departments. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and has served on a number of national scientific advisory committees, including the Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. He is author or co-author of more than 140 scientific papers and presentations. Dr. Isaacs also serves as President of UChicago Argonne, LLC, which manages the laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The University of Chicago has led Argonne’s operations since the Laboratory was formally chartered in 1946.

John McCarter, Jr.
John McCarter, Jr., is an Emeritus Trustee of the University of Chicago and was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1993-2008. McCarter is President Emeritus of Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, and Vice Chairman Board of Regents, Smithsonian Institution. Formerly, he was Senior Vice President of Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc. He currently sits on the Argonne Board of Governors, the Oriental Institute Visiting Committee, and is a Life Member of the Physical Sciences Visiting Committee. He also serves as a board member of: W. W. Grainger, Inc.; Lucas Cultural Arts Museum; National Recreation Foundation; Chicago Humanities Festival; Prize to End Blindness by 2020.

Other members of the MBL Board of Trustees include John W. Rowe, Chairman; William I. Huyett, Vice-Chair; Colleen M. Cavanaugh, Speaker of the MBL Society; Joan V. Ruderman, President and Director; Maureen Nunez, Treasurer of the MBL Society; Robert H. Ament, Esq., Clerk of the MBL Society; Timothy Mitchison, Chairman of the Science Council; Robert H. Ament, Esq.; Millicent Bell; Rita R. Colwell; Thomas S. Crane, Esq.; Paul R. Dupee; Gerald R. Fink; L. Patrick Gage; James N. Galloway; Caroline S. Harwood; Robert Haselkorn; H. David Hibbitt; Ethan A. Lerner; George W. Logan; Walter E. Massey; Ambrose K. Monell; Richard S. Morse, Jr.; R. Dana Ono; Saul J. Pannell, Jeffrey H. Pierce; Robert A. Prendergast; George Putnam; Patricia K. Robertson; Elise Rose; Charles M. Rosenthal; Walter J. Salmon; James A. Sharp; Dyann F. Wirth.


The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in 1888, the MBL is a private, nonprofit institution and an affiliate of the University of Chicago.

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