What does a researcher do when a rival laboratory—a group of scientists against whom he competes for funding—asks for a favor? He says, “Sure.”
Competition for grants is fierce. With public and private funds scarce, scientists work hard to secure the money that will keep their labs open and employees paid.
But when Cornell University researchers Barbara Baird, Ph.D., and David Holowka, Ph.D., asked OMRF scientist William Rodgers, Ph.D., if they could use a reagent developed in his lab in their experiments, he agreed immediately. The results of their collaboration were published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Cell Science.
Both labs are studying lipids, a type of molecule that includes fats and fatty acids, Rodgers said. As such, both labs often compete for funding. So why help?
“Nobody gets into science just to win grants,” Rodgers said. “You do it because you love the thrill of discovery. Everybody wants to be the first to figure it out, but if we can work together to get there faster, that’s in all of our best interests.”
Working with the Cornell group was a treat—to Rodgers, this is a group that he has known and admired for a long time, but never before had the opportunity to formally collaborate.
The new research involves cells that cause severe allergic reactions and could move scientists closer to understanding why up to 15 percent of Americans are at risk for anaphylaxis—a possibly deadly reaction to an allergen.
“Making a discovery like this opens up the windows of our perception,” Rodgers said. “It’s a Sistine Chapel kind of moment.”
What’s best for the world of research is healthy competition based on mutual cooperation, he said. It’s that spirit of banding together to get the job done that’s made OMRF a successful, respected institution for 65 years.
“Whether it’s our scientists working with labs at Cornell, Harvard and Duke or our international partnerships in India, Brazil and China, this foundation is committed to making discoveries that improve human health,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “We’re always glad to get there first, but it’s more important that we get there.”