The Alliance successfully held its annual Scientific Day, on May 4, 2022, the first hybrid, in-person and virtual meeting since the start of the Pandemic. It was held in partnership with the Title V project of the Medical Sciences Campus and during the Clinical and Translational Research week, designated as such by the Puerto Rico government. The annual Scientific Day represents the climactic event for the Alliance, with opportunities for our community of investigators, collaborators, and community members, to listen to experts in areas of clinical and translational research, and learn about the latest advances in the work of investigators that are part of the Alliance. The meeting was hugely successful, with 113 in-person attendees and additional 49 attendees in virtual mode. This year we were honored to have as our keynote speaker, Dr. Margarita Alegría, a former professor of the UPR Medical Sciences Campus and now Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Disparities Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Alegría gave a superb and very instructive lecture titled “Expanding Models of Mental Health Services to Community-Based Organizations”. While providing the audience with key background information and updated data on mental health disparities in Latinx, we learned about some new and very innovative strategies and models for addressing this hugely important disparity, through community-based organizations. This was an exhilarating lecture that greatly impacted all of us.
This year the meeting also provided an opportunity to learn about important needs and issues in the community, directly from community members and community-based researchers, during a superb panel discussion titled: “How Age and Health Status Increase Vulnerabilities: Opportunities to Catalyze Public Health, Policies, and Research”. The presentations by the discussants were enlightening and provided important background information and insight for ongoing and future community-based studies.
Following the efforts of the Alliance to enhance mentoring capabilities for our investigators, during this Scientific Day and for the first time, Our Professional Development Core in conjunction with other collaborating cores and programs, held a Special Workshop for mentors, that included certification. The workshop included presentations by Dr. Kermin J. Martínez-Hernández, Founder of K-21 Consulting LLC and an Associate Professor in the Chemistry Department at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, and Ms. Stephanie House, Researcher, NRMN Master Facilitators, Madison University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. This was a very successful activity that will strengthen our mentoring capabilities and will impact very positively our young and new researchers.