Thursday, May 1, 2008

It’s All About Collaboration

From a distance, the scene could’ve been another day at middle school, with students scurrying in the hallway to get to one classroom from another. Except, we’re in the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the 3,000 or so people scurrying from one ballroom to another are no middle schoolers – they’re some of the most extraordinary people in the world: executives, academic experts, government officials and Nobel laureates. Almost all sectors of the global economy are represented here. What struck me most is the common thread that seemed to permeate each of the more than 130 sessions and discussions: the strong desire and need to collaborate.

Amidst the diversity of expertise and opinions, these influential thinkers and doers of our time recognize the need for and recommend more collaborative efforts – whether it’s across industries, beyond borders, or between public and private sectors. They all share the drive to find and implement workable solutions to some of our most serious challenges. And they’re all committed to sharing the enormous task of being the change agents themselves.

Here’s a glimpse of how collaboration echoed throughout a broad spectrum of sessions:

* Nobel laureate Muhammed Yunus presented the “social business” model to revolutionize healthcare in the developing world. He underscored the need to consider community-based strategic financing mechanisms to motivate the development of new therapies for global disease.
* In a discussion on eliminating malaria as a global threat, the panel that included Peter Chernin, President of News Corporation said that sustained political will, and building of health systems and infrastructure in developing countries were critical to efforts to control malaria. And, this could only be realized through collaborative efforts between governments, as well as between governmental agencies and NGOs.
* A panel which included FDA Commissioner Andy von Eschenbach examined the pharmaceutical pipeline and identified some of the reasons for why the pipeline is drying out. The barriers to innovation are many and include standards for tissue collection, better designed clinical trials, and increased human capital to tackle these problems. Breaking down these barriers to improve the chances of more advancement requires substantial, sustained commitment from both private and public sectors.
* And, in a luncheon discussion between Mike Milken and the “governor of the planet,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about California’s current infrastructure, the governor stressed the need to rebuild the state in the next 20 years. He emphasized the importance of expanding public-private partnerships; working with other governors; and learning from the best practices the world has to offer.

Throughout the Global Conference, participants had numerous opportunities to get to know, get reacquainted and become engaged with FasterCures and our programs. A few minutes before Mike Milken and Gov. Schwarzenegger’s discussion, Greg Simon presented a powerful overview of FasterCures and its programs. The strength of FasterCures is in its innate ability to spur and drive collaboration among otherwise siloed entities involved in medical discovery.

Visit the FasterCures Web site for session summaries and conference highlights.

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