Teamwork drives research. The notion of a scientist laboring long hours in relative isolation went by the wayside long ago. Laboratories are small communities, where a spectrum of investigators pools their talents and skills on shared projects that often continue for years. Young researchers work side by side with, and learn from, more experienced ones; long-term scientists are re-energized with fresh ideas from those just entering the field.
But in the last 10 to 15 years, our notion of what constitutes a research community has changed dramatically. With the introduction and growing use of the Web, and the ever-increasing sophistication of telecommunications, scientists no longer have to be in the same geographical locale in order to team-up. While working side-by-side in the lab is still more customary — since researchers, like workers in other industries, enjoy exchanging personal insights at the bench or the “water cooler”— the virtual shared workplace is quickly gaining proponents.
The obvious benefits of collaboration hardly need to be restated. But, certainly, one stands out: Researchers coming from distinctly different backgrounds, disciplines and places, together can approach problems that neither could tackle alone.
That is what this issue of UMDNJ Research is all about. We are a large research university with eight schools on five campuses. Our research runs the gamut from the most basic discoveries to the translation of those discoveries into better understanding, prevention and treatment of human disease, and we are dedicated to training and nurturing the researchers of the future. We have a long history of intra-school research and training partnerships, but have in the past been less likely to reach across campuses to establish collaborations. To foster more University-wide collaborations, the Office of the Vice President for Research has provided financial support to several research teams whose members come from two or more of the University’s schools. These collaborators, and others, are featured in this publication.
Their partnerships are already yielding successful outcomes. Several articles have been accepted and/or published by major journals. In addition, a University spin-off company, involving UMDNJ-Dental School investigator Scott Kachlany, who is working with UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School oncologist Roger Strair, has attracted initial funding and is beginning FDA-required studies of a novel therapeutic agent.
I hope you will take the time to read about the work of these researchers who have reached beyond school and geographical boundaries to forge new professional networks and novel scientific investigations.