It’s an exciting time in the medical and science fields. Not only is technology expanding every day, but the ability for leading researchers, doctors and scientists to collaborate is increasing as well.
Not long ago organizations were rather isolated and shared information through limited documentation alone. Today, fighting disease and making breakthrough discoveries is a worldwide initiative. Clinical research organizations are working together to find solutions more quickly by sharing resources in new ways.
Universities, governments, and private corporations are all coming together to share findings, equipment and staff in the name of science.
Sharing Samples and Materials
Medical materials are highly regulated and have to be handled with extreme care. Even moving a potentially harmful substance from room to the next within a lab requires careful planning and knowledgeable personnel. In the past transport of such materials has limited collaboration.
Today, there are highly specialized lab movers who are equipped to transport sensitive materials over short and long distances, even when precise climate control is necessary. This gives research facilities the ability to share samples or completely relocate to a new laboratory if needed and remain compliant.
Several years ago George Clinical and a global pharmaceutical company teamed up to conduct diabetes research in China. This is typically a long, drawn out process just to get approval to do the research. While waiting for their applications to be reviewed, the George Clinical team found eight sites that were willing to sign contracts before the research had even been approved.
George Clinical was able to ready their site and reduce their timeline significantly. This is just one example of how willingness to make facilities available is an important part of collaboration.
Communication has always been an essential component of collaboration. Just a few decades ago the options were fairly limited, but that’s not the case today. Researchers have some options for instant communication, including high definition video conferencing. The technology has made vast improvements over the last few years to the point that video conferencing is being used as a clinical and educational tool during surgery.
Even apps on smart phones can be used to give others a virtual tour of a laboratory or have a face-to-face conversation. By keeping clear lines of communication open the findings are better documented, and teams from around the world can know what others have already done and build on their work rather than simply duplicating it.
Online Libraries of Information
The Internet has made information sourcing easier for everyone, including researchers. There are some online libraries such as PubMed that make it possible for researchers to publish their work for others to reference. In a matter of seconds, researchers can find dozens of papers and reports based on keyword searches, dates, authors and more.
Conventions targeted at a global audience are becoming more commonplace and is a way for hundreds of researchers and scientists to collaborate at once. These conventions feature speakers that unveil their latest research and explain the findings. Experts can learn about the latest information first hand as well as new developments that could alter their own research.
Some conventions also include hands-on training and opportunities to see a researcher’s work up close. Perhaps the most beneficial part of conventions is the opportunity to meet and network with other professionals that could become collaborating partners in the future.
The unsung hero of research collaboration is standardization. Countries and companies around the world create their standards for safety and functionality. This can lead to disjointed research and create hurdles during the R&D phase.
Organizations like SEMATECH are now invested in creating across-the-board performance standards for the equipment they make. Underwriters Laboratory is another group that provides global standardization for safety regulations. Even standards in how findings are documented make it easier for researchers to disseminate information.
Solving humanity’s most pressing problems requires that people from around the world come together with a common goal. Collaboration reduces effort and maximizes results all while decreasing the time it takes to make meaningful findings.