What does international collaboration mean for you?
Posted 27th May 2020 by Liv Sewell
The present COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the vital need for knowledge sharing across the global science community. We asked three of our speakers what international collaboration means for them as leaders in their fields.
Anant Madabhushi is the F. Alex Nason II Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio and Research Health Scientist at the Cleveland Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs Medical Centre. Professor Madabhushi is developing tools to support diagnosis and prognosis in cancer patients.
Matthew Moscou is Group Leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK and Honorary Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. Dr Moscou’s work focuses on understanding the evolution of immunity in the grasses.
Devanand Sarkar is Professor of human and molecular genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and Associate Director for education and training of Massey Cancer Center at VCU. Professor Sarkar is developing targeted treatments for NASH and advanced HCC.
Why is international collaboration important for your work?
“This question is most pertinent with a COVID-19 pandemic. We need all-out international collaboration on all types of research methodology and result sharing to understand the biology of the disease process and develop treatment and vaccine. This is true for any scientific work. International collaboration enables us to do rigorous and reproducible research with validation and authentication. This allows us to better understand a phenomenon and develop effective remedies.”
“International collaboration fosters a different kind of curiosity, perspective and learning, and allows us to recruit the best talent worldwide. Through our collaborations in Peru, Colombia, and India, we are validating our technologies on unique data sets. We believe the technologies we are developing can play a major role in low- and middle-income countries where low-cost companion diagnostics for cancers are needed. We hope to deploy our technologies worldwide, to reach populations with the greatest need.”
“I can think of three main reasons that international collaboration is essential to my everyday work. First, at an international level, you have access to a wide range of individuals with a breadth of skills and knowledge that can rapidly accelerate a project. Second, our work on plant pathogens has a global reach, where aerial pathogens do not respect borders and can move 1,000 km. Last, the impact of our research can be strengthened by building collaborative links internationally in order to rapidly disseminate discoveries for crop improvement.”
What possibilities do you see for digital collaboration in science?
“Due to COVID-19, all collaborations in science have had to go digital for the time being. This is likely to bring home to scientists and researchers around the globe the fact that digital collaborations in science are not a luxury anymore, but really a critical facet of future joint endeavors. To those who play in the stock market, investing in remote collaboration/video conferencing software may not be a bad idea!”
“The impact of digital communication is already impressive, particularly with applications like Skype and Zoom to connect researchers, and group editing of documents through Google Documents and Microsoft Office 365. This expands into platforms that integrate internal and external teams to interface on collaborative projects, such as Github. With increased need for these applications, I expect their quality will only improve with time and breakdown the barrier of distance.”
“I believe digital collaboration is already going on. I have collaborators in different institutes with whom I share methodology and research results digitally. For any type of wet lab research, there are limitations to digital collaboration. However, we are using digital collaboration more and more, and as much as is feasible. For dry lab research, digital collaboration is fostering expansion of knowledge, new ideas and discoveries.”
The value of global science collaboration:
- International collaboration brings a breadth of knowledge and skillsets to a project, enabling scientists to leverage world-class expertise and talent to better understand phenomena and accelerate projects.
- International collaboration is essential for validation and authentication in research, drug, technology and biotechnology development.
- When seeking to solve the world’s biggest problems such as human disease and global food security, international collaboration is essential.
- Research leaders are collaborating internationally to deliver technologies and biotechnologies to those populations in the greatest need.
The future of global science collaboration:
- Digital collaboration has been going on for some time with the help of widely available digital communication technologies and collaboration platforms.
- Leading research teams are already in the process of working as digitally as possible because of the opportunities for new ideas, discoveries and knowledge expansion therein.
- Given COVID-19, all science collaboration, national and international, has had to go digital. Digital collaboration will be fundamental to all future scientific endeavors.
- The demand for and quality of remote collaboration and video conferencing software will grow.
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