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Science Reproducibility: Dr. Shai Silberberg

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Dr. Silberberg lecture endeavors to improve the quality of science through the topic of “reproducibility.”

Author: Evelyn Head | Category: October 12, 2014

As a Program Director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Dr. Silberberg is dedicated to assisting the scientific community in their quest for funding. In addition to advising, Dr. Silberberg is also responsible for reviewing and recommending applications for funding to the Director of the Institute. He remarked that “[he] devote[s] much of [his] time to improving the rigor of science, a topic that in recent years has been coined ‘reproducibility’.” Unlike other program directors, Dr. Silberberg has also been able to continue researching as an adjunct investigator in the intramural program of the NINDS. Dr. Silberberg works alongside Kenton Swartz, Ph.D. on the mechanism of action of P2X receptor channels. P2X receptor channels are ATP-activated cation channels that serve important roles in sensory signaling and inflammation (Li, Silberberg, & Swartz, 2013 )

Dr. Silberberg has traveled to various universities across the United States, including Iowa, Ohio, and Maryland to lecture on the subject of “reproducibility” to bring awareness to local scientific communities about issues related to the value of research findings. Dr. Silberberg will be coming to the UT Health Science Center on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 (See flyer for more details). His lecture will focus on the importance of integrity in research. More specifically, he will discuss the significance of each stage of research, including the design, the conduct and analysis, and the reporting of the research. With the help of current data, Dr. Silberberg will explain “the importance of taking every measure to avoid unintentional and unconscious bias…as well as transparently reporting how the science was conducted.”

Enhance the Value of Research Findings: What should we ALL do?
Dr. Shai Silberberg
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
4:00 - 5:00 pm
MED 4.409L
Register here if you wish to attend.

Dr. Silberberg believes that fate led him to the doorstep of the NINDS. What started out as a one year sabbatical transformed into a life-long career. In 2002, he decided to leave his home country of Israel to work with Dr. Kenton Swartz and somehow forgot how to count. “One year led to two, two led to three, and then for various reasons we decided to remain in the U.S.” He had just accepted the position of program director and was still unsure as to whether he would stay in this position or seek a faculty position elsewhere. He commented:

“Initially I was not happy. I missed running my own research lab, and I missed the daily interactions with the students (who kept me young). Fortunately, as I was seriously contemplating assuming a faculty position at UTHSCSA things turned around. I found myself on the committee that advises the Director of the Institute which large projects should be funded and which Initiatives should go forward. This allowed me to influence decisions made by the Institute and exposed me to a wide range of research areas and approaches. Here began my quest to improve the quality of science.” 

When asked what advice he had for graduate students, Dr. Silberberg remarked that “Giving advice is rather pompous”, referring to the unpredictability of life. Instead, he decided to list three attributes: integrity (the meaning of his name), thinking outside the box, focusing on the big picture, and not taking no for an answer while once again joking about his inability to count!

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