North Carolina ADRCs, Duke-UNC ADRC and Wake Forest ADRC, gathered together on February 14, 2023, for the first ADRC NC Summit. Core leaders from each of the centers came together to share ideas and develop future partnerships between the two NC Alzheimer’s centers. Dr. Heather Whitson, Duke-UNC ADRC co-director described the importance of such an event: “This meeting really crystallized the extraordinary collaborative potential here. WFU ADRC and Duke/UNC ADRC are highly aligned in terms of vision, culture, and mission, yet we bring different and complementary sets of resources to the fight against ADRC. What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than strengthening science and relationships with our “sister Center”?”
The morning started with each Core sharing a few unique details about their work as well as potential topics of collaboration. Every member was encouraged to write down ideas for joint projects on sticky notes and place them on large posters representing each Core. After the introductory presentations were complete, the group enjoyed lunch while the Center directors condensed the plethora of ideas into 6 distinct topics of collaboration.
Outreach, Recruitment, & Engagement (ORE) Core co-leader, Dr. Andrea Bozoki stated “I loved meeting my counterparts at Wake Forest. The event reminded me that I’m part of a large community of scientists who enjoy thinking about the same things I do. During our breakout session, this event had the interaction that is often lacking at a scientific conference.”
After lunch, the Centers broke out into small groups, each focused on one of the prepared topics, brainstorming future action plans, and identify topic champions. After developing realistic, sustainable ideas for collaboration, each focus group had the chance to present their plans and receive feedback from the group as a whole.
Research Education Component (REC) Core faculty, Dr. Donna Roberson appreciated the collaborative “feel” to the meeting. “There is no competition between the ADRC groups, everyone is interested in working together to cover the state with services and to combine ideas for the better!”
At the end of the Summit, both Centers had developed several sustainable action plans for future partnerships. The group finished the day with a sense of optimism and excitement.
Dr. Marianne Chanti-Ketterl, Outreach, Recruitment, & Engagement (ORE) Core Junior Associate Core Leader (JACL) expressed her lasting impression of the summit, stating: “As a JACL I have to say I was in awe of the level of sharing of information we did. I have never seen that before. It was great to see all three institutions (Duke-UNC-WF) as partners. I know that in the end we do compete for grants and being ahead of the others, but it is nice to see that the mission and vision of raising community awareness about brain health and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s overrides institutional politics.”
By developing and pursuing long-term, joint projects, Duke-UNC and Wake Forest ADRC hope to reduce the burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in all of North Carolina.
Data Management and Statistics Core Co-Leader, Dr. Micheal Lutz summed up the summit as “… a great opportunity to share best practices and research between the two Centers and most importantly to map out concrete steps that will establish the NC ADRCs as an unmatched resource for the Alzheimer’s disease research community: greater than the sum of all of the parts. All of the participants were actively engaged in planning projects of mutual interest. At the end of the meeting, I had established a new network of collaborators and have specific steps to follow up with Wake Forest and Duke/UNC colleagues to take our specific project forward. It was satisfying to see how the ideas that were discussed in the larger meeting became a project plan with specific aims and deliverables with faculty at all of the institutions committed to working together. It is exciting to think about inter-ADRC grants being submitted to NIA and publications based on the collaborative work started at the meeting.”