University of Wisconsin–Madison

Proposals by Waisman investigators selected for UW-Madison Cluster Hire Initiative

Waisman investigators Qiang Chang, Anita Bhattacharyya, Xinyu Zhao, Luigi Puglielli and John Svaren (left to right)
Waisman investigators Qiang Chang, Anita Bhattacharyya, Xinyu Zhao, Luigi Puglielli and John Svaren (left to right)

Several Waisman Center investigators played key roles in crafting research proposals that were recently selected as ‘cluster hires’ by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

UW–Madison’s Cluster Hiring Initiative was launched in 1998 as an innovative partnership between the university, state and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

According to the UW-Madison Office of the Provost, the Cluster Hiring Initiative aims to provide an alternative to departmentally based hiring practices and norms. In essence, the initiative is an incentive plan designed to facilitate interdisciplinary strategic hiring by providing salary support for faculty positions.

The university and WARF have just funded six new cluster hires, including two with Waisman Center connections.

Waisman investigators Qiang Chang, Anita Bhattacharyya, Luigi Puglielli, John Svaren and Xinyu Zhao are part of a team that proposed a Functional Genetics/Genomics of Neurodevelopmental and Neurodegenerative Diseases cluster hire. Waisman investigator James Li is one of the researchers who proposed a cluster hire in Social Genomics.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Waisman Center to establish a footprint in an up-and-coming research area,” says Chang, associate professor of medical genetics and neurology. “More importantly, the cluster will serve as a nucleus to integrate research, training, clinical service, and community outreach at the Waisman Center.”

New faculty hires who are part of the Functional Genetics/Genomics of Neurodevelopmental and Neurodegenerative Diseases cluster at the Waisman Center will help develop a pipeline of discovery that begins with patients in the clinics and ends with new approaches for treatments or therapies. This cycle of translational research would start with identifying patient-specific genetic variants, and then continue through experimental studies to confirm whether these variants truly cause disease. Ultimately, new panels for diagnosis and new approaches for treatment may be discovered.

“With these new faculty, the Waisman Center will expand its contributions to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative research through the use of functional genetics/genomics,” says Bill MacLean, interim director of the Waisman Center. “We greatly appreciate the support of the university, the state and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation toward the cluster hire initiative.”

To read the complete news release about the most recent set of cluster hires, please visit: news.wisc.edu/uw-madison-announces-six-new-cluster-hire-initiatives/