Sixty Seconds with Jane Itzhaki
Dr Jane Itzhaki is the Research Facilitator for Oxford Metabolic Health (OMH), an exciting new initiative in the Medical Sciences Division. She talks about her role in OMH, and plans for its upcoming Inaugural Symposium.
Tell us a little about your role and background
As the Research Facilitator for Oxford Metabolic Health (OMH), my role is to help strategically coordinate metabolic research at Oxford. I previously worked as a freelance grant consultant and before that, at the Wellcome Trust in London for 15 years where I worked on many different funding initiatives involving researchers across the UK. Even longer ago than that, I was a research scientist! Outside work, I enjoy music (as a pianist and concert-goer) and running. One of the first jobs in my new role has been to meet researchers interested in metabolism and find out about their work and collaborations, so that I can build up a map of Oxford's research activity in the area.
Tell us about Oxford Metabolic Health.
Oxford Metabolic Health is a new cross-divisional and inter-departmental initiative that aims to improve strategic coordination between groups with an interest in metabolism and health. It recognises Oxford's tremendous strengths in this area, which is relevant to many disciplines and diseases including diabetes, endocrinology, obesity, nutrition and metabolism itself, and encompasses basic and translational activities. These areas alone are huge health problems globally. We also have researchers interested in metabolism working in other less obvious fields such as immunology and cancer. In fact, defects in metabolism are a part of most diseases in some way or another.
What are the benefits to researchers to being involved in OMH?
The OMH research community is spread over many departments and institutes across all biomedical sites (and even beyond, including MRC Harwell). We've established OMH to improve communications between these researchers with the aim of encouraging collaboration and sharing of expertise. We hope to identify areas that would benefit from strategic development, training and funding. By taking a more joined-up approach, we also hope to raise the profile of Oxford's metabolic research, both internally and externally.
What’s next for OMH?
As one of first activities, we're holding an Inaugural Symposium on 2 July 2018 in the Richard Doll Building that will be open to all interested researchers from across the University and at nearby sites.
What do you hope researchers will get out of the upcoming OMH symposium?
We're very excited about bringing together researchers from many areas to showcase the huge breadth of research going on at Oxford. We've chosen a diverse group of speakers so we hope that researchers will have the chance to see how their work fits into the bigger picture. The morning sessions will be wide-ranging, whilst in the afternoon we'll focus on a growing and fascinating area that builds on strengths at Oxford – the interface between immunology and metabolism. There'll be poster sessions throughout the day and students and postdocs are encouraged to submit abstracts for poster presentation. Through the talks and posters we hope to stimulate discussion and facilitate new connections.