July 27, 2017

StrategyShare17 event helps build excitement, connections

On the same day 48 years after the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 moon landing, individuals from throughout the Vanderbilt community reflected on that historic event — a milestone marking the ultimate synthesis of innovative thinking and technology — as they shared their own explorations and mission moments during StrategyShare17.

James Crowe Jr., M.D., was one of the presenters at last week’s StrategyShare17 event at the Student Life Center. (photo by John Russell)

On the same day 48 years after the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 moon landing, individuals from throughout the Vanderbilt community reflected on that historic event — a milestone marking the ultimate synthesis of innovative thinking and technology — as they shared their own explorations and mission moments during StrategyShare17.

More than 250 attendees representing a multidisciplinary cross-section of Vanderbilt gathered during the half-day, interactive event to forge new connections with others. They learned about innovation taking place across the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s campus through a series of TED Talk-style presentations, “Power Pitches” and poster sharing, as well as mission moments that showcased personal stories of success.

For example, Sheryl Brynne Fleisch, M.D., founder and medical director of VUMC’s Street Psychiatry Program talked about the program along with her patient, Patricia Steward. Another powerful moment came when pediatric audiologist Ally Sisler-Dinwiddie, Au.D., shared her experience with becoming completely deaf following a car accident, struggling to complete her education and receiving cochlear implants, with the unwavering support of her medical team and mentors.

StrategyShare17 is an initiative of the VUMC Strategic Directions team, led by Reed Omary, M.D., M.S., chair of the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, and Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research and director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, with the support of William Stead, M.D., Chief Strategy Officer for VUMC.

Upon completion of the transition of VUMC into a new financial and legal entity, VUMC leaders decided to sharpen the organization’s strategic focus. In the summer of 2016, people representing broad areas of Vanderbilt and the community were engaged to develop a unifying strategy compass with four strategic directions — design for patients and families, discover learn and share, make diversity and inclusion intentional and amplify innovation.

StrategyShare17 is a continuation of this process, enabling the community to share what they are doing to advance the strategic directions and connecting with others to advance the work.

“This is amazing,” Omary said. “Inspired by the speakers, people are having conversations with one another that they have never had before, building excitement and creating new ideas. So many attendees here want to make things happen. If we can change the way we think, we can also change our behaviors to do things that we didn’t think were possible.”

Stead said he had his own “aha moment,” during a presentation by James Crowe Jr., M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center. Crowe’s talk explained what he called “generalized” medicine, in which one individual is studied in order to develop medical treatments. For example, individuals who have survived hemorrhagic fevers in the past have then donated their antibody-rich blood to be used to develop treatments to save the lives of others.

Matthew Christian assists Donna DePasquale as she experiences virtual reality training during PosterShare at StrategyShare17. (photo by John Russell)

“I hope everyone came out of this today with one or more ‘ahas’ about how things relate that they just hadn’t thought about,” Stead said. “The way Dr. Crowe framed the idea of generalized medicine was new to me. I knew a lot about his vaccine work and how they do the science, but this is the first time I had heard him focus on the 99 percent of genes we all share. The concepts of generalized medicine and personalized medicine relate. We need to do both, and they work together in a way that will scale.”

André Churchwell, M.D., Chief Diversity Officer for VUMC, moderated the StrategyTalks segment, and at the event’s conclusion he said the energy in the room was revitalizing.

“I have never been in an event where you felt such positive energy around the direction of a medical center,” he said. “It was an event that builds on our unique collaborative and creative culture.”

Laura Beth Brown, R.N., vice president for Vanderbilt Health Services, moderated the Power Pitches segment, and said she was “blown away” by the talent, knowledge and energy of the presenters.

“I’ve attended many events at VUMC over the past 16 years and have never been so impressed with a production,” she said. “The true North Star for the day? The individuals who presented. They are people we share an office cube with, work in a lab, or deliver patient care right here at VUMC. Compassion, talent and dedication were reflected in every interaction. Simply stated — powerful!”

Jay Wellons, M.D., MSPH, chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, moderated the event’s poster session, during which more than 50 displayed posters became conversation starters and connection points for attendees. He also shared a personal story connected to the day’s historic anniversary about a Christmas Eve when he was 10 when he was surprised by a visit by Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong to his family’s home.

“At the end of his visit, after telling me all the things that I wanted to hear, he told me what I needed to hear. And that was, ‘Jay, going to the moon was an amazing thing, and it was done because a lot of people who had different interests and different goals came together and did something amazing. We’ll always have the stars, but there are amazingly important things to do right here on earth that we can do together,’ ” he said.

Wellons pointed to the poster displays as evidence of opportunities to collaborate and do important things at the Medical Center. He encouraged attendees to shove their cell phones deeper into their pockets, get out pen and paper to jot notes and to “walk out with the ability to come together and collaborate later on.”

“StrategyShare17 was fantastic, and the best part was seeing all the connection and the engagement that happened at the event and after, and that I think will continue for years to come,” said Pietenpol. “We will be engaging more and more of the Vanderbilt team and the community moving forward, to catalyze new collaborations that advance the strategic directions.”

Team members acknowledged for their work on StrategyShare17 were Megan Youngblood, MBA, director of Strategic Programs, Strategy and Innovation Office; Susan Meyn, director for Research Resources & Planning; Steven Weissenburger, M.Ed., senior project manager, Strategy and Innovation; Herschel Pollard, MSIS, Strategy and Innovation Consultant; Krystyna Barnard, MPS, communications coordinator, Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences; and Kristy Sinkfield, M.Ed., director, Strategy and Innovation.