Q&A with Andy Chitty, ABRF President
What is your current core affiliation? Tell us about your core lab career path.
I work at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). I am the Director of University Shared Resources (USR). The USR program helps maintain a sustainable approach to cores utilized by a variety of campus PIs in a variety of departments. Currently, this program represents 15 cores. I am lucky to have a wide scope of responsibilities which include, among other things, evaluating and advocating for financial and scientific needs, marketing, strategic planning, operations management, relationship building, and even a smattering of conflict resolution from time to time.
My first contact with cores was years ago when ABRF held a conference in Portland, Oregon. At the time, I was working for a company that designs and manufactures LCMS equipment, and we attended the conference. Little did I know that some years down the road, in my next major career step, I would become very familiar with core operations.
Eventually, I left that company to pursue my MBA. Fortuitously, my graduation coincided with OHSU’s decision to seek out a managerial/business leader for the cores, and my background in managing a scientific company along with my new MBA seemed to be a good fit for OHSU’s needs
Tell us about your involvement and history with ABRF.
Coming from the corporate sector, I had a lot to learn about cores, NIH regulations and other issues that are integral to this unique business and operations model. My first order of business was to seek out associations made up of other people working with cores. That was when I attended the Western Association of Core Directors meeting (an ABRF chapter), and met people who were instrumental in providing me with guidance, mentorship, and support. I was able to join the chapter organizing committee, and had the pleasure of serving as president for them, as well as hosting two of our regional conferences at OHSU. Through the regional chapter, I was reintroduced to ABRF. From the first chapter meeting on, I have been attending, learning, and getting involved with ABRF and the chapters to help me be a better core program director.
What aspect of ABRF has been most useful to you in your core and/or career?
By far, the camaraderie of my fellow ABRF members and the mentorship provided have been critical to developing good skills as a shared resources program director. This was an enormous help in getting my feet on the ground at my institution, and continues to provide me with ideas and inspiration on how to continuously improve my performance.
Members of ABRF have served as external evaluators of our cores in the OHSU program. Most recently, we hosted Sheenah Mische of NYU and Julie Auger of UC Davis to evaluate our entire program and my work as a director. The leadership at OHSU continues to reference their assessment as we attempt to optimize our operations and advocate for support to strengthen our program.
What is your most memorable ABRF moment?
There are a lot of great moments, but I think being asked to serve as ABRF President not only surprised me but was extremely flattering. I am very proud to be considered for this opportunity. I don’t think there is anything quite as good as when a group of people that you have the highest regard for expresses their faith in you.
What is the most fun you have had at an ABRF meeting?
This is a tough one. There are a lot of fun times to be had with the ABRF group! I have to say that the City Museum in St. Louis was fantastic. City Museum is like a massive jungle gym or playground on steroids that transcends all age groups, and we had it all to ourselves. It kind of turned us all back into wide-eyed six-year-olds, but with adult beverages!
In thinking about it now, it seemed a good metaphor for why I like this scientific community. The excitement this community has for discovery seemed to fit well with the idea of being transported back to a time where the playground offered endless opportunities for experimentation and learning.
What makes ABRF stand out? Why are you a member?
ABRF is made up of people who are dedicated to helping others maintain the highest level of achievement in their scholarly endeavors. The concept of shared resources fits well with my own personal philosophy. Those dedicated to making shared resources successful are making a commitment to meeting the needs of the community, and that sits well with me. Both with my job and with my association with ABRF, I believe I found work that has meaning, work that has a positive impact.
Is there anything else that you would like people to know about your involvement with ABRF and core operations?
Although we have a lot of work to do at ABRF, I would like everyone to know how much work has been done so far. In the past year, Frances and Susan have led the Executive Board on a path towards strategic planning that will go a long way to making us stronger, more stable, and forward thinking for our membership. I look forward to working with them and the rest of the Board this year, and I strongly encourage all members to throw their hat in the ring and join us as we make plans for our future!