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Breaking Down Silos to Stop COVID-19

Scientists across the country are focused on stopping, treating and developing a vaccine against COVID-19. For those things to happen, the science must go on. But how can researchers collaborate at a time when labs are shutting down and there are restrictions on meeting face-to-face? Researchers at the University of Utah’s Immunology, Inflammation & Infectious Disease (3i) Initiative decided to go virtual — with surprising results.

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Recent Posts

You Too Can Go Virtual

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic seems change daily. It’s clear, however, that life as usual is not an option for anyone, including scientists. Researchers

Beyond the Skin-Pinch Test for Scleroderma

Researchers blame a low-tech skin-pinch test, in part, for the routine failure of potential scleroderma drugs in clinical trials. Modernizing the evaluation of potential drug therapies was the focus of the three-day Scleroderma Diagnosis Sandpit hosted by Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK February 26-28, 2020 at the Wellcome Collection in London.

Revived from the Archives

The Productive Dissident

Deviance has an important place in the innovative process. We don’t challenge norms without a little (or a lot) of deviant thinking. And the single best way to discourage inventive, out-of-the-box deviance is to prohibit disagreement and probing questions. We need a little clarifying, critical judgment now and then. The trick is to cultivate a culture of occasional and appropriate contrariness that is productive.

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Size Matters

Group work can be clunky and cumbersome. You have to spend longer clarifying the objectives, aligning resources and getting people on board. Sometimes, it can seem nearly impossible to achieve the consensus necessary to advance within a task. Groups are a powerful mechanism to produce innovative solutions, but getting to that product can be arduous, particularly if it’s not well facilitated.

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Talk to Strangers

People from other disciplines, other departments, other universities. They are interested in a domain that is not exactly your science. It may be a neighboring branch of science with obvious parallels or overlaps but still with an approach that is different from yours, or it might be from a very different universe, a science that is 180 degrees away, with subject matter and methodology foreign to you. These are the people we want you to be talking with.

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In the Sandpit

What happens when diverse groups of researchers are forced to catalyse and collide and collaborate? Questions arise that wouldn’t otherwise have been posed, and partnerships form between people from very different scientific disciplines. That’s what often makes the output of Sandpits (aka Ideas Labs) unique and innovative

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