At Marshfield Clinic Health System, research doesn't just take place in a lab. Over the past 60 years, research has an integral part of patient care – driving prevention, detection and treatment of life-threatening conditions and improving health in the communities we serve.

On Oct. 9, the inaugural Celebrating Research Day highlighted the importance of research at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, celebrated the 60th anniversary milestone and honored those who make research possible.

The all-day event, which was open to Health System staff, the public and research donors, featured a series of presentations showing the breadth and depth of research at the Research Institute. The day culminated with the presentation of the Gwen D. Sebold Fellowship for Outstanding Research to Huong McLean, Ph.D.

Daytime events included a panel discussion on rural ​health research, presentations on how philanthropy impacts research, the state of research at the Research Institute, and a keynote address on understanding global vaccine hesitancy from Dr. James Conway, associate director for Health Services – Global Health Institute and a professor of pediatrics with the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

Attendees had the opportunity to view interactive displays from each of the research centers. Research Institute scientists and Health System providers were on site to show how research directly impacts patient care in Wisconsin communities and beyond. 

Amit Acharya, B.D.S., Ph.D., executive director of the Research Institute, provided a look back at the past 60 years and a look forward into the future of the Research Institute.

“Today we take the time to celebrate the work of our scientists, but also thank donors and our community to support us as we move forward," said Dr. Acharya. “I love the saying, 'Opportunities don't happen; you create them.' We are in the footsteps of a lot of people who have helped us get where we are today. They continue to inspire great research here."

Sebold Fellowship recipient

The celebration continued in the evening with the Gwen D. Sebold Fellowship for Outstanding Research being presented to Dr. McLean, a lead investigator with the Research Institute's Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health.

The Sebold Fellowship has been given by D. David “Dewey" Sebold since 1988 to recognize an outstanding medical researcher and support continued research in his or her field. McLean is the 32nd researcher to receive the annual Gwen D. Sebold Fellowship for Outstanding Research.

Recipients receive $5,000 for continuing research in their field and a memorial plaque presented by Sebold in memory of his sister, Gwen. She joined Marshfield Clinic as a medical stenographer in 1955 and passed in July 1974.

This year, the focus of the fellowship shifted to honor a young investigator – an accomplished individual with promise for a bright future. Dr. McLean is an experienced scientist who is nationally-recognized in vaccine research, having published many peer-reviewed articles, acting as principal investigator on numerous studies and receiving national media coverage. She also is a leader within the Research Institute, heading up the Summer Research Internship Program for six years and personally mentoring five of the program students.

Dr. McLean was an obvious choice, said her friends and colleagues.

Dr. McLean's coworker, Kayla Hanson, shared a letter written by former Summer Research Internship Program graduate, Emma Seagle. McLean mentored Seagle during her time as a summer intern. Seagle shared, “Huong is more than deserving of this award and honor. Her tenacity, steadfast work ethic, perseverance, integrity and passion for epidemiology is contagious… and it extends to her role as a mentor. She is an inspiration."

Dr. McLean was quick to credit her colleagues for their support in her career.

“You know me as a researcher, but you might not know I'm also a runner," said Dr. McLean. “During my race this past weekend, I thought about how running is an individual sport. Whether I succeed or fail depends on me. Research, on the other hand, is a team sport. I would not be up here without help from my mentors and the people who work hard behind the scenes every day. When you have a great team, you can focus on the science."

Following the Sebold Fellowship presentation, Teri Wilczek, chief philanthropy officer, shared the importance of philanthropy to advance research at the Research Institute.

“It is because of the generosity of people like Dewey and all of you here tonight that the great work at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute continues," said Wilczek. “For the past 60 years, research at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute has been unique. It is unique because of the nationally-renowned science that takes place right in central and northern Wisconsin. It is unique because of the personal, lasting relationships we develop with patients and research participants. And it is unique because of support from our communities that is at the heart of research being done here."

To conclude the evening, Dr. Acharya and Dixie Schroeder, Research Institute administrator, shared a recap of Celebrating Research Day.

“The recurring theme we witnessed throughout Celebrating Research Day and the Gwen D. Sebold Fellowship for Outstanding Research presentation was celebrating teamwork and opportunity," Schroeder said. “We are proud of the work we've done over the past 60 years, and we know that together we will go far."​