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  • Manucher J. Javid Professor & Chairman
    Surgical Director of Multidisciplinary Stroke Program
    Department of Neurological Surgery
    University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
    University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

    Lecture Title: “Inspiration and Neurosurgical Research – How to Start a Project, Grant or Paper”

    Neurosurgery is a rich, rewarding, but extraordinarily demanding career. It requires personal knowledge, organization, realistic expectations and careful planning. Implicit in the assumptions of entering this career are an understanding that the treatments that we provide for the diseases we treat (brain tumors, strokes, trauma, chronic pain, pediatric congenital disorders, deformity); all of these treatments are inadequate. While we are very proud of what we accomplish at this time, we must improve them. This will only come through careful basic and applied translational research to improve this field.

      • Academics:  a generation of new knowledge (research).
        • The dissemination of that knowledge (teaching). 
        • All of this must be patient-need based and only the clinician caring for the patient understands and can define that research for this field.

      • Academic neurosurgery.
        • Promotion based on excellence on research, teaching or clinical work, all of which translates into the generation and dissemination of new knowledge. 
        • No matter what the field, national recognition comes from peer review of your work with the coin of the realm being publications, invited lectures, funded research, and letters of reference from arms-length reviewers.

      • NIH funding of research
        • Hypothesis-based clinical and basic science research
        • Training (K series)
        • Investigation initiated research (R series)
        • Multi-investigator project (P series)
        • Multi-center clinical projects (U series)

      • StrokeNet
        • Coordination of all NIH clinical stroke trials
        • 24 regional centers (23 neurology, 1 neurosurgery)

      • Negotiating an academic position. 
        • What does the chair look for?
        • Character, integrity, performance.

      • What are your mutual expectations between your new boss and you?
        • Mix of clinical versus academics.
        • Write it down!
        • Establish a distribution of effort from the start and follow that.

      • Starting a bench lab career.
        • Sufficient protective laboratory time.
        • Topics that match your clinical interest.
        • Space:  office, lab and proximity of the two.
        • Personnel – both clinical and laboratory support.
        • Start-up funds and donations to cover the first few years.
        • Clear expectations as to grants.
        • Faculty development programs.

    • Writing a grant or paper.
      • Tell me something new - ORIGINAL and INNOVATIVE
      • All great research stands on the shoulders of our predecessors – recognize them, acknowledge them. 

    • Is the project FEASIBLE - versus innovation? 
      • Tell them what you will say – say it – tell them what you did say.

    • FOCUS!  Make your work HYPOTHESIS-DRIVEN.  Avoid descriptive work.  Look at mechanisms.  Understand that proving or disproving the hypothesis is how we advance.  The clinician/scientist must put the hypothesis into prospective.  CLINICAL EXPERIENCE is your strength – use it!

    • RELEVANCE.  If you answer the question – what will come of it?  If your answer is negative, where will that lead?

    • COLLABORATION 101.  We do not work alone. 
    • Excellence in teaching or clinical as an academic career rather than bench science. 
      • Publish
      • Join the relevant societies
      • Establish national contacts
      • Generate new knowledge

    • Balance in a neurosurgery life. 
      • Finding purpose. 
      • What do you value?
      • What can you accomplish?
      • What can you give back?

    • Patients  Family  Value system
      • Set aside time for these values

    In the end, it is all about maintaining the integrity of what we do to maintain our motivation and pursue knowledge for our patient’s welfare.

    During this course, we will introduce the concept of a RUNN Course grant. This is a three-page grant which will use these principles to organize your ideas into hypothesis-based research. You must work at organizing, focusing, showing its relevance and showing what will come of positive or negative results. Use these tools to get started in academic writing and develop them around the topic of your choice.