Bioinformatics Annual Retreat 2023

Bioinformatics Retreat - Group Photo

May 10, 2023 | Jennah Varela

The Division of Bioinformatics and Analytics held its Annual Retreat on May 10, 2023, at the Luskin Conference Center with team members Dr. Eilon Gabel, Dr. Theodora Wingert, Dr. Drew Cheng, Dr. Tiffany Williams, Dr. Valiollah Salari, Stephen Murray, and Jennah Varela. The division was joined by guest speakers Dr. Maxime Cannesson, Stephanie Fisher, Johnny Quach, Quenesha Caballero, and Olivia Vallejo. The purpose of this year’s retreat was to bring the Informatics Division together in-person for a day of team bonding, recognition and strategizing future growth.

Bioinformatics Retreat - Cannesson speech

The day consisted of the Informatics Division refining their mission statement, vision, values, team-bonding exercises, and creation of both group and personal goals for the next five years. They took the time to recognize team members for their hard work, creativity, perseverance, and dedication to the projects and future goals, notably generating Informatics-specific funding, enhancing visibility within the department and health system increasing internal and external collaborations, building capability and application of innovative and advanced analytics, and increasing trainee, faculty, and staff involvement.

Bioinformatics Retreat - team building

“My favorite part of the event was tracking how far we’ve come,” Dr. Gabel, Director of Perioperative Informatics, recounted following the retreat. “We started with so little, and now we have lofty goals and a solid vision. Also, in the days since COVID, it’s been a long time since we’ve just been in a room together and had the ability to talk for such a long time. We are all such different people with different skill sets that make our group great. It’s nice just to have time together in a room. We can’t take that for granted.”

Bioinformatics Retreat - puzzle

In addition to data and research advancement, the Division of Bioinformatics prioritizes its culture of collaboration and camaraderie. “In the short amount of time I have been with the Informatics Team, they truly have become my family,” Jennah Varela, Administrative Specialist, stated. “I am in awe of everyone’s hard work and dedication. I am excited to see the years to come with this team. I know we will achieve all our goals and more!” Dr. Wingert echoed this sentiment. “The informatics group really epitomizes what a high-functioning team really should be- everyone brings something unique and valuable to the table and we love working together to make big, amazing things happen that we never could accomplish individually. The whole day really is greater than the sum of its parts!”

Our department’s Staff Wellness Lead, Quenesha Caballero, facilitated a stretch and guided meditation with the Informatics Division. Everyone was engaged in a very thorough ergonomic stretch routine that required everyone to stand up and do various neck, arm, and leg movements. This was followed by a guided meditation where Quenesha instructed us to sit down in a relaxed position and close our eyes are she walked us through the session. Benefits of daily meditation help reduce stress and anxiety that provide a sense of calm, peace and balance, helping us to stay centered to achieve mental, emotional, and physical healing.

The 2023 Division of Bioinformatics Annual Retreat enabled the team to redefine their missions, vision, values, highlight the growth of the team and collaborative projects, and recognize the quality of their current and future work.