Xiaolin Cheng receives NIH and Ohio State grants following interprofessional leadership development program


August 9, 2022

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Last year, Xiaolin Cheng, PhD, associate professor at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, was among 21 Ohio State researchers appointed to the inaugural Growing Research Opportunities (GRO) Academy cohort that finished spring 2022.

The program was created by Ohio State’s Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge (ERIK) to address modern complex problems through building interprofessional research teams and leveraging participants’ expertise. The 21 members of the GRO Academy cohort were mostly mid-career associates from multiple professions at Ohio State, including health sciences, engineering, natural and physical sciences, law, social and behavioral sciences, humanities, education and mathematical sciences.

“It’s imperative for principal investigators to bridge the traditional gaps between disciplines to harness breakthrough research,” Grace Wang, executive vice president for ERIK, said last year. “The skills they develop in the academy will help set them apart as they begin to lead diverse, complex research teams.”

The GRO Academy equipped Dr. Cheng and the rest of the cohort with crucial skills to build impactful and transformative research to tackle complex issues through interprofessional collaboration. The cohort engaged in skill-building educational sessions that taught them how to build diverse and inclusive teams, hold colleagues accountable through effective communication, create shared visions and goals, manage conflict and build collaboration and trust.

“The program gave me a much broader perspective on collaborations and has touched a few things in research collaboration that I have never realized or considered previously,” Dr. Cheng said. “It also provided a set of concrete questions that one needs to consider when developing and implementing a research plan. I think in the future I will purposefully think about these questions and follow these approaches when building and leading teams, creating shared visions/goals, resolving conflicts or making decisions on teams.”

This opportunity helped the cohort generate compelling proposals and scholarly pursuits for future research at Ohio State.

After the program, Dr. Cheng received grants for his small-team collaborative project with Peter Piermarini, PhD, associate professor of entomology at the Ohio State College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and Liva Rakotondraibe, PhD, associate professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy at the College of Pharmacy, to develop a natural product-based compound for controlling mosquito-borne diseases.

The research, titled, “Artificial Intelligence-driven development of novel chemical tools for controlling mosquito disease vectors,” was awarded a President’s Research Excellence Accelerator Award while also receiving an NIH NIAID R56 Bridge Award.

“Overall, this program has been a great experience for me," Dr. Cheng said. "It bridges a critical knowledge gap for faculty who are interested in leading large and complex interprofessional collaborations. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is seeking to build compelling collaborative proposals.”