For the third ScholarTalk post in celebration of American Heart Month, I talked to Martin Gerdes, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, about collaboration and funding in the biomedical sciences. Gerdes studies heart failure and his research has appeared in top biomedical publications. He's secured more than $31 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health during his career, including his current $1.8 million grant for investigating the effect of thyroid hormones in preventing heart disease.
Interested in conducting biomedical research? Be prepared to work as part of a team. "Biomedical research is highly collaborative these days," Gerdes says. "It is difficult to survive otherwise ... the best research projects now cover many angles, biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, and morphology. It's a challenge for any one scientist to develop such broad reaching technical expertise."
To those seeking to join or build a research team, Gerdes offers two pieces of advice. First, find out as much as you can about potential collaborators. "Be sure to read some of their papers before committing when asked. Don't be bashful to ask the top people in the field to collaborate."
Given the expense of research and the difficulty in obtaining grants, Gerdes encourages new biomedical researchers to partner with established scientists whose projects are already funded. Don't be afraid to look beyond your local institution for research partners. Besides expanding the pool of qualified collaborators from which to choose from, employing this strategy could lead to other opportunities.
Gerdes explains: "Throughout my career, I have collaborated with scientists in the United States and around the world. It helps to establish a good friendship first. If things go well, the collaborator may invite you to visit or put you on the program at a foreign meeting. I have visited many wonderful places as a result of collaborations, including Munich, Paris, Pisa, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Beijing, Cambridge (UK), Athens, and Switzerland. Thanks to these opportunities, I have great memories and lifelong friends."
Stay tuned for Part IV. Gerdes will discuss the process of publishing your work on Friday, Feb. 27.