As medical scientists, we work towards a major goal: to improve human health through prevention and treatment of disease. Given the size of this challenge, a key feature of the most successful projects is capacity to bring together collaborators with complementary expertise and common interests. We at CERG have established partnership with scientists from all over the world, and in recent years we have strengthened our collaborations with researchers from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil). As a highlight of this collaboration, we are excited to join our colleagues in Sao Paulo this week for the first UTFORSK Seminar in Exercise Physiology.
The UTFORSK project (ExercisePhysiology.no) started in 2014 and is a joint initiative between our research group (CERG) and the University of Sao Paulo (School of Physical Education and Sport). We’ve had several activities in the past months, including joint courses, exchange of students and joint supervision. The upcoming seminar will provide an informal environment for discussing our most exciting projects.
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A mix of experienced and young scientists will share their expertise and recent findings from projects conducted in Norway and Brazil. The content will cover topics ranging from molecules to society, aiming to bring together an audience with different backgrounds. Different from large conferences, the focus of the UTFORSK Seminar is to discuss ongoing research and future projects, rather than published results only. In our view, this strategy will stimulate new collaborations and contribute to improve the projects at an early stage. Here are some of the main benefits of research collaboration, which we aim to develop even further during and after the seminar:
- Creativity: “Two heads are better than one!”. There is no doubt that joint ideas can reach further; collaborators are also likely to come up with constructive criticism and tell you that an alternative solution might improve the project.
- Productivity: short deadline is one of the main concerns for research projects. A group of scientists focused on the same goals will certainly achieve the results in a shorter timespan.
- Expertise, technology and far-reaching: sometimes we have the ideas but lack the tools to accomplish them. Competence on a certain experiment, availability of special equipment and knowledge on a topic outside our main field can usually be usually found in a collaborating group. In addition, results in clinical and epidemiological research usually have to be reproduced in diverse populations (e.g. Norwegians vs. Brazilians), which is nearly impossible to achieve without international collaborations.
- Funding: funding agencies believe on the power of collaboration because, as said before, collaborative projects are more likely to succeed.
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It’s also very important to have clear mechanisms to measure the success of collaborations. Number of joint lectures/courses, new funding for projects, number of students in exchange programs and, most importantly, peer-reviewed articles (i.e. when your competitors judge your work as excellent) are the main parameters we use. In this regard, the UTFORSK project has been very successful so far, and we are confident that the upcoming seminar will foster new ideas and serve as platform for great projects in the years to come.
Jose Bianco Moreira, Post doctor at CERG and project daily of UTFORSK at NTNU