Collaboration in Motion

David Grainger, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Utah, says collaboration is the only way for true progress.


It comes from my father who said, "You have to leave this world a better place than you entered it." And that's my core value, I want to leave this world a better place and there is no better way that I can ensure that it's a better place than by implementing ideas that help people. It's something I wish. I wake up every day excited about what I do. You give back to the world that has provided to you.

There are a lot of innovative things that are reported in journals that never, ever see the light of day and the common person never sees their impact. The fact that somebody thought of something that is buried in a journal somewhere, no meaning to me. For me, innovation is seeing that impact in the real world. My professional career requires so much input from so many sides that one person thinking that they can do it all I think is quite arrogant.

I think collaboration in the 21st century is essential. I don't think that I am capable personally in this current world of representing all the dimensions that I operate in. I have to be fed ideas and information constantly by the people surrounding me. There is no possible way that I can understand how to deliver a drug to a tumor unless I see a surgeon and have that surgeon show me how. Now I have the ideas to go back and make that work.

So I think my value as an educator is based entirely on connectivity, on being able to relate exactly what I'm teaching, to exactly what I know is happening in the real world. I think you have to enable students of all ages. They come in with naÔve ideas and you can easily brush them aside and say, "What do you know? You have not been trained in this area." But I think that they come with a seed and that seed you have to consider seriously because they often times have a different perspective that I don't have the luxury of thinking about.

So when they dump this idea on your table, rather than just brushing it in the trashcan, often times I'll try to think all right I'll buy into this and see how this might work. See if it has any basis for reality and if it does, then give them a chance to show me. My personal philosophy is that this education process has to prepare someone to go innovate with impact, that these are always targeted toward some end game. That's impact for me, that's innovation.