Writing for Biomedical Publication Seminar Provides New Skills and Insights

Young researchers and clinicians who are building their careers in academic medicine are faced with many challenges—including complexity, time constraints and dwindling sources of funding—when trying to secure financial support for their work and publish their results in peer-reviewed journals.

Unlike the science they become experts in, there’s no formal training to learn how to write grants and biomedical manuscripts. These skills, essential for success, must be learned through experience—ideally through the guidance of mentors and other seasoned experts in the field.

That was the idea behind Writing for Biomedical Publication, a comprehensive seminar that was offered recently to more than 140 members of Dartmouth’s scientific community by presenting sponsors Dartmouth SYNERGY (The Dartmouth Clinical and Translational Science Institute) and Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC).

Held in the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center, the seminar’s featured speaker was Christopher Papasian, PhD, a professor and chair of the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

Dr. Papasian, a member of Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops, led participants through an engaging and informative full-day session in the Oopik Auditorium—covering everything from practical tips on composing a manuscript, to choosing the appropriate journal and understanding its review process, to strategies related to revision and resubmission.

“Understanding how busy folks are, this turnout is quite impressive—it tells us that there’s a real need for this kind of event,” said Sheila Noone, PhD, executive director of SYNERGY and assistant vice president for Clinical and Translational Research at Dartmouth. “We did an event with Grant Writers’ Seminars and Workshops on grant writing back in March that was equally well-attended, and plan to offer more seminars in the future.”

SYNERGY is also working with Christopher Dant, PhD, at NCCC to offer shorter, more specific workshops for smaller groups throughout the year. “It really speaks to the investment that we’re making together to prepare the next generation of clinical and translational investigators,” said Noone.

That investment is greatly appreciated, said Jibran Khokhar, PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in Geisel’s Department of Psychiatry and a pharmacologist who is focused on finding more effective treatments for people with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders.

“SYNERGY and the Cancer Center have been great about providing resources that are beneficial and relevant for people who are at all stages of science, and also creating funding opportunities at the local level to help us establish a track record for future success,” said Khokhar.

Anna Adachi-Mejia, PhD, a cancer prevention researcher at Norris Cotton Cancer Center and deputy director of the Health Promotion Research Center at Dartmouth, agreed. “I think SYNERGY, the Cancer Center and affiliated groups are doing a phenomenal job bringing to campus and to faculty, resources that are critical for investigator productivity.”

Though a seasoned veteran of writing grants and publications, she wouldn’t miss these events. “I want to make sure I know what the cutting-edge recommendations are, and because I do mentor people I want to know what they’re hearing,” said Adachi-Mejia. “We’re always learning and we can always be better.”

Alan Green, MD, principal investigator and director of SYNERGY and the Raymond Sobel Professor of Psychiatry, who opened the seminar, helped put the event in perspective. “There is a substantial need to train the next generation of clinical and translational researchers, so we can move discoveries more rapidly from the laboratory to the patient bedside and ultimately into the community,” he said.

“Today’s success, and the momentum we’re seeing generated through our education, training and career development programs, shows that we are well on our way,” said Green.

SYNERGY and NCCC are co-sponsoring another seminar on February 22, called “NIH Public Access Policy and PubMed Central.”  More information is available on the SYNERGY website.