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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 53-54

Fostering collaborative research partnerships – Lessons learned

Department of Community Medicine, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (A Unit of Madras Medical Mission), Puducherry, India

Date of Submission02-May-2021
Date of Acceptance13-May-2021
Date of Web Publication30-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Anil Jacob Purty
Department of Community Medicine, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (A Unit of Madras Medical Mission), Puducherry
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcrsm.jcrsm_29_21

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How to cite this article:
Purty AJ. Fostering collaborative research partnerships – Lessons learned. J Curr Res Sci Med 2021;7:53-4

How to cite this URL:
Purty AJ. Fostering collaborative research partnerships – Lessons learned. J Curr Res Sci Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 May 31];7:53-4. Available from: https://www.jcrsmed.org/text.asp?2021/7/2/53/334455

Collaboration is essentially the practice of sharing knowledge and ideas to achieve a common goal. In fact, from childhood, we are encouraged to work as a team while retaining independent thought and skills to work alone. In an era of fast-changing biomedical research scenario, it is critical that the scientific community and policymakers are kept fully apprised of the developments taking place in these areas to ensure that the new knowledge generated out of the collaborative initiatives is mutually beneficial.[1]

While collaboration has been an integral part of biomedical research for a long time, the nature of collaboration has evolved from one of the conducting researches within departments/disciplines/institutions and increasingly to newer areas necessitating partnerships across institutions both locally and also at the national and international levels.[2] This type of interdisciplinary/multicontextual collaboration has stoked the pace of research and encouraged the development of innovative and groundbreaking strategies in investigating increasingly novel, complex, and convoluted areas.

Collaborations among researchers can take many forms. There is a continuum ranging from the classic partnership between two faculty members at academic institutions, to situations such as the use by one researcher of another's resources such as a piece of equipment, a biological strain, or database. Collaborators have expectations as to what the nature of the research relationship should be, including the rights and responsibilities of each party. The term “collaboration” may have different meanings to the collaborators and others who may be directly or indirectly involved. If these differences are not identified early in the relationship and resolved through clear communication, they can become contentious when research interpretations vary concerning emerging issues such as the access to and use of the and data generated or the ownership of intellectual property. Therefore, it is necessary in everyone's best interest to ask questions early about the terms of collaborations and the participant's expectations. It is usually a good idea for the researchers to develop a written agreement concerning their collaboration.[3] Sometimes, the collaborators' institutions or funding sponsors will require written agreements formalizing the research relationship. In these situations, administrative staff members will need to be involved. The need for clear communication concerning the terms of collaborations is increasing as number of collaborations increases. For interdisciplinary and/or academic–commercial collaborations, the norms and expectations of the collaborating partners can be quite disparate, with high potential for misunderstandings.

There are several collaborative research initiatives available for researchers and have provided opportunities to us and lessons in the development of new partnerships.

  • The NIH Roadmap for Medical Research was launched in September 2004 to transform the way biomedical research is conducted. Funded through the NIH Common Fund, Roadmap programs span all areas of health and disease. Roadmap initiatives enable the development of transformative tools and methodologies, fill fundamental knowledge gaps, and change academic culture to foster collaboration[4]
  • The BRICS STI Framework Program has been endorsed aiming to support excellent research on priority areas, which can be addressed by a multinational approach. The initiative facilitates cooperation among the researchers and institutions from the BRICS countries[5]
  • The ICMR-INDIAB Study is an ongoing nationwide cross-sectional, door-to-door survey conducted in adults of either gender, aged ≥20 years and above from all 29 States, National Capital Territory of New Delhi, and 2 union territories, namely Chandigarh and Pondicherry, in the mainland of India in a phased manner. The primary objectives of the study are to determine the prevalence of diabetes mellitus and prediabetes in India by estimating the state-wise prevalence of the same and to compare the prevalence rates in urban and rural areas across the country[6]
  • The ICMR-Task Force on Tribal TB was conducted to estimate the burden of TB among the tribal population and develop an innovative health system model to strengthen TB control in India. We assessed the situation and suggested methods for improvement in the real-world setting to the stakeholders in 20 States of India[7]
  • The Global Fund (GFTAM) implementation research initiatives in India have supported finding solutions to specific issues affecting health status of the study population. We assessed the problems faced by patients seeking care at Medical colleges in Puducherry and demonstrated how could these be resolved.[8]

In recent months, doctors, researchers, engineers, and scientists from all fields of knowledge around the world have worked together tirelessly to confront the coronavirus outbreak with an unprecedented spirit of collaboration. A team of Chinese and Australian researchers published the first genome of the new virus, and the genetic map was made freely available for access by researchers worldwide.[9] The virus has since been sequenced in excess of 3000 times, charting both the original genome and its mutations. The much-needed vaccine would not be possible without this research.

In today's fast-paced world, we need to foster mutually beneficial partnerships to encourage creativity, leverage experience, and maximize resources that can help to solve various health issues. By looking for partnerships and collaborating externally, research organizations are able to innovate much quickly and create solutions to prevalent health problems. There is strength in numbers. We learn more, and faster, together – and the pandemic is underscoring the critical role of international collaboration on the frontiers of science and technology.

  References Top

Nyström ME, Karltun J, Keller C, Andersson Gäre B. Collaborative and partnership research for improvement of health and social services: Researcher's experiences from 20 projects. Health Res Policy Syst 2018;16:46.  Back to cited text no. 1
Purty AJ. Reflections for research capacity development in India. Natl Med J India 2008;21:263.  Back to cited text no. 2
Emmons KM, Viswanath K, Colditz GA. The role of transdisciplinary collaboration in translating and disseminating health research: Lessons learned and exemplars of success. Am J Prev Med 2008;35:S204-10.  Back to cited text no. 3
NIH Roadmap-Affiliated Initiative. Available from: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/funding/grants/announcements/roadmap. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 16].  Back to cited text no. 4
BRICS STI FP Response to COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Available from: http://brics-sti.org/. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 16].  Back to cited text no. 5
Anjana RM, Pradeepa R, Deepa M, Datta M, Sudha V, Unnikrishnan R, et al. The Indian Council of Medical Research-India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB) study: Methodological details. J Diabetes Sci Technol 2011;5:906-14.  Back to cited text no. 6
Thomas BE, Thiruvengadam K, Raghavi S, Rani S, Vetrivel S, Rao VG, et al. Understanding health care-seeking behavior of a tribal population in India among those with presumptive Tb symptoms. PLoS One 2021;16: e0250971.  Back to cited text no. 7
Stalin P, Manikandan M, Antony V, Murugan N, Singh Z, Kisku KH, et al. Identifying and addressing factors contributing to pretreatment loss to follow-up of tuberculosis patients referred for treatment from Medical Colleges in Pondicherry: An implementation research. Indian J Community Med 2020;45:27-31.  Back to cited text no. 8
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Naqvi AA, Fatima K, Mohammad T, Fatima U, Singh IK, Singh A, et al. Insights into SARS-CoV-2 genome, structure, evolution, pathogenesis and therapies: Structural genomics approach. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 2020;1866:165878.  Back to cited text no. 9


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