Yale delegation visits House of Commons to showcase innovative collaboration

On the heels of President Obama’s recent visit to London, where he pledged to improve research links with the United Kingdom, a delegation from Yale School of Medicine, led by Dean Robert Alpern, joined leaders from University College London (UCL) at the House of Commons on June 27 to raise awareness of the Yale-UCL Collaborative, a novel research model and an example of a successful transatlantic collaboration.

The innovative alliance was formed between Yale and UCL to improve global health through scientific research, and clinical and educational collaboration. George Freeman, a newly elected member of Parliament, and Malcolm Grant, UCL president and provost, hosted the event, which also included government ministers, members of Parliament and peers.

“Unlocking the potential of the U.K.’s Life Science sector is a top priority for the government and this sort of pioneering, collaborative model of global research can play a vital role in that,” said David Willetts, minister of state for universities. “It is an example of the kind of U.K./U.S. collaboration we had hoped for after Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama’s recent announcement, and I congratulate the two universities.”

The collaborative is the brainchild of Dr. John Martin, a professor at UCL Medicine, and Dr. Michael Simons, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Yale. Its mission is to “educate to enable; interpret complex societal issues; and solve important problems.”

Simons, who will be awarded an honorary degree from UCL this week, said, “The collaborative started as a way to advance the field of cardiology. We and the leadership at Yale, UCL, UCL Partners and Yale-New Haven Hospital soon recognized the potential of this collaboration to provide benefits, which would exceed the sum of the constituents and tackle fundamental problems. This gave rise to a legal agreement signed in 2009.”

Martin added, “The collaborative has grown beyond what we first envisaged, as a result of much enthusiasm from the ground upwards and now encompasses interaction between many departments from history to vascular disease to nanoscience to oncology. The first 18 months have been about establishing the proof of concept and now we’re seeking to expand further and embed the collaborative fully.”

While interaction between researchers at different universities is customary and continues at both Yale and UCL, what differentiates the Yale-UCL Collaborative is the organizational support and the ability to explore new thinking based on the most recent research findings in a collaborative way, which leads to hypotheses, note leaders from the two universities. The collaborative will use retreats as the model to explore this, bringing together faculty members from both organizations to consider and discuss their latest findings in a collegial rather than competitive way. This model has led to successful grant awards.

To learn more about Yale and UCL, visit www.yale-ucl.org.

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