Dear Colleagues and Students,
Collaboration is often an overused term at academic health centers, and we risk taking it for granted. But collaboration has a special relevance to the challenges that confront science today. The pace of change in our world of knowledge is accelerating.
We are constantly trying to keep abreast of the latest research methods and outcomes, trying to adapt our thinking, as the next discovery establishes its value and becomes the standard, at least for a short while.
One thing is clear: the complexity of ever-evolving knowledge is beyond the scope of any single health science discipline. In the 1990s we talked about networking. Now our complex world demands connectivity, an intellectual bridging among our various special areas of excellence. This was the goal for the two Pilot Projects being funded by the David A. Gardner New Initiatives Fund (one described below): to help us overcome the barriers of our own expertise and inspire new interactions that will enrich our prospects for discovery. One opportunity focused on bridging P&S basic science and clinical researchers; the other invited collaborative submissions involving all four of our schools.
Both initiatives were successful. For the P&S competition, 35 novel teams of faculty developed collaborative proposals built on individuals’ expertise but leveraging their differences and promising exponential advance on a particular health challenge. The selected project, led by Dr. Alice Prince, is highlighted in this edition of InVivo. For the four-school initiative, the team led by Dr. K. Craig Kent will be featured in an upcoming issue. Although only two grants were awarded, we now have many other excellent, well-conceived projects strong ideas that can serve as the foundation for proposals from other funding sources, such as from government, foundations, associations, or private donors. These model programs are a testimony to the creativity and energy throughout our departments, centers, institutes and graduate programs.
There are times when it is valuable to blur the lines among our disciplines and remind ourselves of the excitement that diverse thinking can bring to our work. I thank Lynn Shostack, whose generous gift made this initiative possible, and I applaud those who took advantage of these opportunities. Their spirit of intellectual adventure ensures Columbia’s future as an academic leader and a catalyst in decoding contemporary illness.
Lee Goldman, M.D.