The concretey award for 2016 went to Prof. Chris Brightling. The concretey is an award we give at BioSci Consulting to researchers and innovators who embrace convergent approaches and distinguish themselve by being a force for getting things done.
Professor Chris Brightling has worked with us on two signature projects - AirPROM, and COPD MAP. Both of which were challenging projects that were considered 'too ambitious' and yet both of have been successful and in no small part due to the commitment of Professor Brightling to collaborative approaches.
AirPROM from its outset was a challenge because it aimed to integrate computational models of the lung across multiple scales. A task many said was not possible, if anything because the rate of change is different at different scales. At a microscopic scale everything changes in seconds or fractions of seconds time frame. On a more macroscopic level structural changes could take weeks to months to develop. Integrating different types of models meant that multiple different disciplines needed to be engaged from computational modelers, molecular biologists, engineers, clinicians, clinical researchers, data scientists, and statisticians. This meant integrating the perspectives of researchers who were almost speaking a different language. In this video clip Professor Brightling explains some of the challenges of such an approach.
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COPD MAP was also multi-disciplinary with research on COPD ranging from molecular biology to clinical studies. What was most interesting about COPD MAP is that it brought together many leading researchers who typically did not work closely together and yet it is a highly successful collaborative project.
What was most impressive about COPD MAP is that at the outset there was no set commitment of the pharmaceutical partners. Yet, as the project progressed they contributed substantially in terms of expert input and in terms of resources. That interaction underscores the importance of being flexible and allowing all stakeholders to address their individual objectives as well as the broader objectives of the project. In the video below Professor Brightling points out that the aims of academic and pharmaceutical researchers are not that different.
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Convergence science is a concept that has emerged to describe the need to bring multiple disciplines together to in particular deliver advancements in healthcare. Professor Brightling highlights this as a evolution towards mathematics.
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It was clear to us at BioSci Consulting that Professor Brightling is a standard bearer for convergent approaches to science and innovation and therefore he was a natural choice to receive the 2016 concretey award.