Workshop with Vicki Seyfert-Margolis
We were delighted to be joined by the former lead FDA representative on President Obama’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology, Dr Vicki Seyfert-Margolis. She put us through our paces in a workshop that asked us to identify the barriers for communication of science to i) other researchers and ii) patients. As a result, the 5 groups generated the following clear problem statements:
• Research by nature requires focus – researchers are not incented to think beyond their own expertise
• Conflict of interest between competition and open science
• Pressure for funding leads to exaggerated claims by researchers leads to greater patient expectations
• Lacking communication between researchers/clinicians leads to misleading/unrealistic patient expectations
• Research is not really focussed on patients’ priorities
These problem statements highlight the importance of collaboration in academia; a sector that has been built on fostering competition, where success is measured in papers and grant money. At the other end of the translational process, patients are often losing out, feeling like they’re promised too much or like their best interests are not at heart. We rounded up the workshop with a discussion about how we can demonstrate success by fostering team work and collaboration. This final point highlights the importance of networks, such as Apollo London, which represents a forum for the next generation of researchers to communicate challenges and pave the way for developing solutions in the translational research field.