Emory Report
May 5, 2008
Volume 60, Number 30


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May 5, 2008
‘Team science’ accelerates discovery, impacts health

Fred Sanfilippo is executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and chairman of Emory Healthcare.

Recently I had an opportunity to meet with a few medical students who are participating in Project Medishare — a program in which Emory volunteers provide medical care to the underserved in Haiti. This group of extraordinary students has organized a powerhouse aid project by leveraging the art of collaboration.

Working in tandem with physicians, nurses, translators, other aid organizations, donors and each other, they served an amazing 1,000 patients in a one-week period — many of whom had never seen a doctor before. They also provided much-needed medication valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars in this country that is, of course, priceless in Haiti.

Each of the Project Medishare students I met is talented. Each is passionate about global health and is deeply committed to making a difference for people in need. But together, they have formed something even stronger — a coalition of like-minded people working toward a common goal with a truly inspirational result.
That commitment to collaboration is one of the things that attracted me to Emory because it’s embraced not only by our outstanding students, but by our entire system. And when systems collaborate, innovation is most often the outcome.

The Atlanta community offers us a unique set of potential partners, including some you’d probably expect, such as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the CDC, the VA, Grady, and others, and some you might not expect, such as Georgia Tech — an organization that some universities might consider competition but that we consider a colleague. In fact, Georgia Tech partners with us on some of our most critical initiatives, including the Emory-Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute, the Emory-Georgia Tech Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, and the Emory-Georgia Tech Bioengineering Research Partnership.

A few weeks ago, I saw this collaboration in action when I attended the Emory-Georgia Tech 2008 Frontiers of Cancer Nanotechnology Symposium. Investigators from many organizations and disciplines converged to begin addressing some of the most promising and exciting developments in cancer diagnosis and treatment. And the theme many speakers reiterated was the notion that we can only continue to accelerate discovery — and make inroads against cancer — through “team science.”

Diseases such as cancer and poverty like that in Haiti are complicated problems that will never have a single solution. No one group has all the brilliant ideas, all the expertise, or all the resources, but together, we can positively impact the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Whether we are groups of individuals who come together or entire organizations, when we unite around a common goal, we’re more effective, more powerful, and more likely to transform health and healing.

Please share your feedback at evphafeedback@emory.edu.