Final UI research VP candidate spoke Monday

BY ALY BROWN | JUNE 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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Mary J.C. Hendrix, the president and scientific director of the Children's Hospital of Chicago Research Center, promoted interdisciplinary collaboration and public transparency for research at the University of Iowa.

"Research permeates all aspects of our lives," she said. "As researchers, we should be creating new knowledge, training the next generation, and serving as economic drivers in full transparency of the public view."

Hendrix spoke in the IMU on Monday as a candidate for the new UI vice president for Research and Economic Development. She was the last of three finalists to speak at public forums for the position.

Hendrix promoted collaboration with the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University rather than competition. She said the UI should learn from other state schools' experiences and findings and share equipment of interest.

"I think of myself as a conductor of an academic orchestra," she said. "Someone able to harmonize everyone and everything involved."

Patricia Lee Winokur, professor and associate dean for Clinical and Translational Science, said Hendrix's leadership experiences would benefit the position.

"She is well-trained for what this position would require," she said.

Hendrix also hopes to promote inspiration and innovation across the UI colleges.

"Creativity and innovation should be encouraged, supported, and protected at all levels," she said. "Through the vice president for Research and Economic Development's Office working closely with respective colleges."

Hendrix is the William G. Swartchild Jr. Distinguished Research Professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. She is a former UI faculty member and deputy director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her research seeks to identify genes linked to the spread of cancer to find the biological basis for new treatment options.

Hendrix also stressed transparency between the research community and the public as an important issue she would pursue as vice president.

UISG President Nic Pottebaum said transparency between UI research professionals and the students is important.

"It is always important that we are transparent with whatever research we are doing," he said. "It is intended to have an impact on the student body and the state."

Pottebaum cited the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates as a good example of research transparency. The center offers opportunities for undergraduates to share their findings and research efforts with the community.

The search committee for the UI vice president for Research and Economic Development hosted two other candidates for the position last month.

Brian Herman, a biologist and a special assistant to the president at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, was the first to speak, on May 21. He focused on collaboration at the university and in the research community as his main goals if chosen for the position, The Daily Iowan has previously reported.

Daniel Reed, the current corporate vice president for Microsoft, was the second candidate to speak May 24. He spoke at the forum about becoming multilingual in research, and he aims to direct money from infrastructure to basic research.

The chosen candidate will replace Jordan Cohen, who has served as the vice president since June 2010.

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