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A Natural Collaboration

Posted on July 29, 2009

Anne Germain (bio) describes her experience collaborating with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


I started the collaboration and joined the VA as a research associate three years ago because all of my research program focuses on sleep and post-traumatic stress disorder. So it was just a natural collaboration to contact people at the VA, to start talking and thinking about collaborating and how that would be possible.

So the amount of support that I got from collaborators at the VA, education that I received as well in trying to help me navigate the system. The VA is a different system from the University of Pittsburgh system, for example. So it's two big institutions with different types of methods for doing research, different regulations, different interpretation of those same regulations at times as well.

The key to success is to find people that have the same goal, who believe in your goals, and then it doesn't become a question of whose goal is it, it's a question of ultimately, we all want to see this project done. So the key is really to find people that can help me, in this case, navigate in the system, understand the system, understand the history of it, understand how things come to be a certain way compared to a different way, and who really wants to work with me or with other people as well to find ways to satisfy both institutions and at the same time to be able to do the research.

It makes it much more complicated, to be honest, but the benefits are proportional to the efforts that we put in it. If I'm frustrated about something that takes longer or more paperwork that I have to fill out or some other training I have to do online, I have to balance it against the immediate other things I need to do, but not lose sight of the ultimate goal. And in this case, I really do believe that it's a collaboration that will get easier as we're developing it and as we're very actively working on making it work.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2009 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Palo Alto, CA.


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