Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Waiting for a Tipping Point in Science

by Margaret Anderson, COO, FasterCures

Where are we on the path to treatments and cures for brain and nervous system illnesses? Had a chance to learn more about new models of collaboration, funding, and partnerships at the recent Collaborating for Cures summit hosted by the Neurotech Industry Organization. Too often we focus on the overflowing bins of problems and forget to focus on where change has taken hold and started to move the needle. John Wilbanks of Science Commons gave participants food for thought when he asked how many nonprofit funders put dollars into collaboration, and cited the need to put our knowledge into a network instead of relying on tin cans connected by a string.

If, as Wilbanks said, resistance to collaboration in science is enormous, what are some ways to change behavior? What is possible when you take John’s advice and “resist the resistors?” What are some ways to get to collaboration, in a purposeful way instead of hoping it will happen? Some tried and true tools such as AlzForum, a 13-year-old online destination for the scientific community to learn and share information and research developments about Alzheimer's disease, is adding new features. AlzForum's June Kinoshita cited upcoming features of the SWAN (Semantic Web Application in Neuromedicine) database, a community-driven knowledge base of Alzheimer disease that relies on a moderated community process to capture the collective insights of the AD field. Michael T. Rogan from the Michael J. Fox Foundation cited the need to “move away from huddled hallway chats” in science to better our chances to find treatments and cures. Rogan leads the development of “PD Online Research” which is a collaborative scientific community which will conduct ongoing critical analysis of PD research and help connect high-priority research with the necessary financial resources.
I moderated a panel on “New Models of Funding” featuring:
With the imperative for them to have “more shots on goal” for their disease areas, these organizations are forging ahead into the future using new models via prizes, venture funds, open science tools, and managing the science. The conference ultimately posed the question: if we have seen massive efficiency for things that might be deemed frivolous (internet shopping, learning about celebrities every move via Twitter), when can we expect a tipping point in science? Many of the models discussed there will create a path for others to follow, and hopefully end up with faster cures.

1 comment:

Term said...

Your blog is really excellent. It inspires the readers who has that great desire to lead a better and happier life. Thanks for sharing this information and hope to read more from you.