Collaboration

Hundreds if not thousands of public, private and corporate institutions are researching everything from the Ebola virus to breast cancer to the common cold.  The work goes on in laboratories around the world.  What is interesting is that for most public colleges and universities in the U.S. – which receive taxpayer funding – there is normally no requirement that they collaborate on research with other institutions.  In other words, two universities a few miles apart which are researching the same topic will do their own research independently.  And they will not collaborate on their mutual effort.  Most of these researchers would rather share their toothbrush than share their lab notes or research results. 

In corporate America, you can understand that when Pfizer spends hundreds of millions of dollars on research for a drug that will ramp down an illness or disease, they want to protect it.  With a patent.  And they deserve it.  And they deserve to recoup their costs to pay for their research.   That is what corporations do — and the results benefit everyone.  But when a university gets large sums of money from the public coffers for research, doesn’t it sound logical (not to mention efficient and more effective) that they and their researchers should be required to collaborate with other institutions which study the same subject?  After all, two heads – or ten heads – are normally better than one (except perhaps in Washington). 

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