Celebrating 10 Years of SCI Café

Aug 10, 2023, 13:58 PM by Krista Bohn

For 10 years, the Institute for Translational Sciences (ITS) has been building bridges between local communities and science and medicine experts through free monthly events called SCI Cafés.

Sharon Crosiant, PhD, who established the SCI Café program in 2013, gave a warm welcome to the community in attendance at MOD Coffeehouse on Wednesday night. She shared that SCI Café was born out of a need for the community to be able to hear about science in a way that is understandable, comfortable, and where they can ask questions and learn to make better decisions for their health. Since its inception, over 90 SCI Cafés have been held in 12 locations with over 2,800 attendees. She thanked MOD Coffeehouse for being our primary home for SCI Cafés and wonderful partner over the past 10 years.

SCI Cafés are hosted by the ITS, the academic home of UTMB’s Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. Members of the public are invited to attend the events, each of which has a different topic driven by community interest and concern, and ask questions of leading experts. Approximately 20 members of the community gathered this hot August evening to learn about how science has evolved and changed over the past 10 years, and where we are heading in the future. 

Randy Urban, MD, Chief Research Officer of UTMB and Director of the ITS, remarked how technology has played a role in processing copious amounts of data over the past decade.  He also addressed another major advancement in science and a major strength of the ITSlearning to work in multidisciplinary teams. He spoke about the value of having diverse opinions and ways of looking at a problem, and how much that strengthens research.

Kees Elferink, PhD, Director of the Sealy Center for Environmental Health and Medicine at UTMB, shared how we’ve come to recognize environmental health as the relationship between people and their environment, whether that be manmade or natural, which really encompasses everything around us and its impact on our health.  Discussions ensued about microplastics, water and food quality, and the microbiome. 

Comments and discussion from the audience led the conversation for the evening, and touched on many important values, such as trust and differing beliefs. The conversation ended with concluding thoughts from our panelists who shared that they hope science is a driving force behind people’s health, whether that be through policy or personal decision making and choice. 

The next SCI Café will be held in Houston at The Health Museum, featuring Ebrahim Eslami, PhD, Research Specialist of Air Quality for Houston Advance Research Center, and Jennifer M. Hadayia, MPA, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston. The topic will be on “Clean Air for Blue Skies.”  This event is free and open to the public.  For more information or to RSVP, please contact Claire Hallmark at