Recently I have tried to explain to anyone that will listen, including myself, that I have taken a non-linear approach to research. Its scary at times because you do not entirely have complete control over the direction it may take but I have embraced it. I actually find it harder to physically move locations – but that is another story.
I started off doing in vitro drug metabolism research and over the years through collaborations and introductions to other researchers my direction has followed branches that have led to other branches and so on. Now it is harder to classify what I do?
Some perhaps would say well this is what happens in academic research, yet I am not an academic. I collaborate with great academics I do not think any of them have taken such a divergent approach. I collaborate with people in industry and they are pretty similar to academics. For over a decade I embarked on collaborations out of necessity initially and then because I could and I can. Who is going to stop me from collaborating?
Over the last few years one research branch that has been initially funded through my work with CDD has gone like this – collaborate with software for neglected diseases (TB) – TB computational models – screening dataset analysis - and then this took a turn in direction through additional collaborations FDA approved drugs screened and repurposed in vitro – collect data and analyze-and by putting other collaborations together resulting in in silico approach to repurposing for neglected and rare disease. The latest developments have brought attention from the rare disease community. There are other sub branches in here too explored in many earlier blogs.
Several elements over the past month or so also suggest pushing further down the rare disease sub-branch. First – the Partnering for Cures meeting left me feeling there was a gaping disconnect between urgent need and sloth like movement of industry + regulators, second a recent trip to Toronto to meet with other researchers brought together by Alex Mackenzie and Kym Boycott, suggested that there are researchers that want to find a faster, better way cure rare diseases.
So here is my offer to the rare disease community this is what I can do in 2012 – and I am going out on a limb here (apologies for the tree joke) but it is an experiment I want to devote some of my year to (depending on other responsibilites):
1. Write grants to fund rare disease researchers to develop products.
2. Write papers and give presentations about rare disease to draw attention to urgency.
3. Organize special journal issues or edit a book on rare disease research.
4. Leverage my collaborative network to do preclinical research for rare diseases.
5. Use virtual screening to narrow down FDA and GRAS (and for that matter any) molecules to be repurposed for rare diseases.
6. Use computational models to predict potential toxicities for compounds for rare diseases.
7. Lobby funding agencies to support rare disease research.
8. Leverage as much open software, data and free resources as possible.
9. I am maximally collaborative, results driven, willing to work with no IP, and willing to become extensively socially networked.
10. Create a template for more disruptive pharmaceutical research using rare diseases.
I would be happy to hear any ideas you may have and also hear from potential new collaborators. I am willing to learn new things that stretch me intellectually.
If I can do it so can you.