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Duncan Graham

Professor, Associate Principal & Executive Dean of Science, Faculty of Science, University of Strathclyde, UK

A problem interdisciplinarians should tackle? We’re currently working on a problem brought to us by a clinician working on drug induced liver injury (DILI) caused by overdose on paracetamol/acetaminophen. The current diagnosis process is too long to allow administration of the corrective treatment through the narrow therapeutic window. We performed proof of principle experiments that led to a successful large-scale funded collaboration with clinicians, statisticians, industry, and ourselves to create a new, rapid point of use test for DILI that works within the right time scale (less than 8 hrs from ingestion). This is a really exciting interdisciplinary project that will make a difference to peoples lives in due course.

The secret to a successful interdisciplinary collaboration? Taking the time to understand the language and expectations of the others in areas different to your own. There also has to be a common desire to work together and recognition that it’s a synergistic partnership and not a transactional service provision to enable someone else to progress.

Fostering interdisciplinary working… Boundaries are more blurred than ever and I see analytical scientists responding well to challenges. When I was president of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s analytical division and also on the Cancer Research UK’s science committee, we held a workshop bringing together analytical scientists and cancer researchers. This allowed the challenges in the cancer field to be presented then new collaborations formed to address these challenges. More opportunities like this opens opportunities for collaboration.

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