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Dr. Osnat at Seattle Children's

Dr. Osnat's meets local researchers at Seattle Children's

By Susan Adler
Seattle Chapter Hadassah Program Chair

   In March of 2010 as part of the Hadassah Leadership Academy, I had the chance to visit Hadassah hospital and its work at the intersection of clinical care, teaching and research. I was struck at that time by the possibilities of creating research partnerships between Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) and our Seattle-based scientists. Two and half years later, the opportunity to hold that exploratory conversation became a reality. 

   As many of you know, in early November, 2012, Dr. Osnat Levitzion-Korach, the new Director of Hadassah’s Mt. Scopus campus, spent three action-packed days in the greater Seattle area. On the morning of November 9th, James Hendricks, President of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, hosted a special breakfast discussion with 18 leading scientists from such well known institutions as the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle Children’s, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Swedish Hospital, and the Global Health Alliance. Some of these leaders had spent time working with peers and colleagues on the Mt. Scopus campus; many had not, but came to the table ready to listen, learn and share ideas. 

   We were successful in drawing together nationally recognized local researchers from a wide range of areas – diabetes, breast cancer, stem cell research, pediatric oncology, cardiology and infectious disease. Also joining us that morning were representatives from Seattle’s Trade Development Alliance (TDA). The TDA is organizing an international trip with local business and policy leaders to Egypt and Israel in Spring 2013; our breakfast session included not only an invitation for Osnat to help shape the health innovation component of this trip but also explored the idea of creating a research mission for Israel’s mayor and other policy leaders to come to Seattle and see first-hand the strength of our research community.    

   At the outset of the breakfast, Osnat stated that her goal was to listen to the creative ideas that emerged from our dialogue and then to return to Jerusalem to, in her words, “make the matches”. My notes from that discussion are filled with a solid foundation to seed the roadmap ahead. It makes sense to be very intentional about how we proceed. For many years, Hadassah has placed members from their medical teams inside Seattle research facilities; the HMO’s original transplant team, for example, was trained at Fred Hutch. In the future, we hope to have the chance to know who from Hadassah is coming to Seattle and how we can leverage their time with us. Whether it is developing collaborative research interventions for dealing with PTSD, learning best practices for patient centered care, or writing joint grant proposals, we anticipate next steps on several of these fronts. 

   My goal, as Program Chair for the Hadassah Chapter, was to demonstrate to Osnat why HMO should consider developing new partnerships in our northwest region. At the conclusion of the breakfast, Jim Hendricks walked Osnat and Pacific Northwest Region President Jacquie Bailey to a nearby window and pointed out the diverse research facilities within our purview. He then personally escorted us on a private tour, explaining how Seattle Children’s organizational focus on lean management has dramatically improved the way business is conducted, leaving more dollars for research. 

   Taking pictures with her camera at various stops along the way, Osnat also had the chance to tour the Seattle Children’s hospital main campus later that afternoon. In between, we visited briefly with Beverly Torok-Storb, whose work at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in cord blood and embryonic stem cell research is transforming how research is conducted. At Beverly’s invitation, we saw with our own eyes how embryonic stem cells are grown and cultivated for research. While our hearts and minds are focused on the rocket attacks between Israel and Gaza, the critical work of HMO continues. We will build on our November 9th conversation.

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