Getzenberg Takes Helm of Brady's Research Program
Getzenberg: Recruiting worldwide, seeking fresh viewpoints, and speeding up the pace.
Armed with energy, enthusiasm, a love of the Brady - where, trained by legendary scientist Don Coffey, he launched his own impressive career - and a host of questions about prostate cancer that he wants answered, Robert Getzenberg, Ph.D., is the Brady's new Director of Research.
For Getzenberg, this is a homecoming -and the chance of a lifetime, to step into theformidable shoes of his former mentor, Donald S. Coffey, Ph.D., whose 30-year tenure as Director of the Research Laboratories put Hopkins at the forefront of urologic research worldwide. "It's great to be back," he says. "I cannot overstate how excited I am to be here."Hiring Getzenberg as the successor to Coffey - whose research at Hopkins is still going strong - was one of the first things Alan W. Partin, M.D, Ph.D., did when he succeeded Patrick C. Walsh, M.D., as the Brady's new director. "Dr. Getzenberg brings a fresh new approach to discovery that combines critical thinking, state-of-the-art research methods and quality leadership," says Partin."We are extremely fortunate to have him."Getzenberg, professor of urology, earned his Ph.D. from Hopkins in 1992, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale University School of Medicine. He returns to Baltimore after spending 11 years at the University of Pittsburgh, where he directed urological research in the Department of Urology, co-directed the Prostate and Urologic Cancer Center of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and served as professor of urology, pathology, and pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In his distinguished career so far,
Getzenberg has earned many awards, is the recipient of grants from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies and foundations, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Foundation for Urologic Diseases. The Brady is "in the driver's seat" of urology research, says Getzenberg, and he intends to keep it there. "We are clearly at an exciting time in scientific research. Thereare many new technologies, and large projects like the human genome effort have been completed. Our task now is convert these as quickly as possible to discoveries that will help our patients." In addition to continuing his own exciting research (see side story), he has several plans in mind formaking this happen:
Recruiting worldwide. "For the first time in the Brady's history, we have an international search going on, to identify the best investigators in the world," he notes. He and Partin are thinking big, looking for scientists who will bring "new ideas, new expertise, and new approaches," to prostate cancer research.
Assembling multidisciplinary teams. By bringing together scientists from different disciplines to focus on specific problems, "we can circle the wagons around prostate cancer," attacking it from all sides. A key part of this endeavor, Getzenberg notes, is The Patrick C. Walsh Prostate Cancer Research Fund, which "allows us to make certain that any scientist at Johns Hopkins who is interested in working on prostate cancer is able to. We are also seeking out scientists who may never have considered working on prostate cancer, explaining to them how their work may be applicable to the disease and allowing them to refocus their minds on this problem. This is an amazing opportunity to bring so many fantastic scientists to the field.
"Speeding up the pace from bench to bedside." We have many exciting ideas, but we need to move them much more rapidly to the point where they have an impact on patients'lives," Getzenberg says. One way to do this is to make the most of the massive sources of patient information already on hand at the Brady. Help is needed in the form of people- epidemiologists, bioinformationists, computer programmers and others - who can make sense of of all of this information, so Brady scientists can "carefully focus on which of it is clinically meaningful."