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Physics Example

Collaboration methods from particle physics

We are especially grateful for the contributions received from Claudio Pellegrini, a physicist who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and from Caterina Vernieri, Assistant Professor at Stanford University and co-organizer of one of the discussion groups for the last particle physics community study.


Particle physicists face specific challenges, which include the justification, design and use of very large and costly equipment. They found that community level consultations and activities increase support from the public and from funders.  They have been able to do so while encouraging individual creativity and recognition.


The attached draft was developed with the intention of describing particle physics collaboration methods for a biological audience. There will also be a section with comparisons to biological methods. Colleagues interested in contributing to the next versions of this paper are encouraged to contact us or to use the dedicated section of the Forum.


 The particle physics community organizes and discusses new ideas in what is called the Snowmass process, and they have developed methods to make sure that everyone’s contribution is encouraged and considered. They call this process “community driven and inclusive” and state that “all people and ideas are welcome”. There is a balance between particular interests and cooperation achieved interacting with the prospective funders, in this case government agencies.


We have received similar feedback from the senior advisor of a philanthropic family that has already donated several hundred million dollars to biomedical research. This advisor stressed the importance of making many different ideas visible within the cell-cell communication project. He mentioned the “need to keep frontiers and freedom open so that people can explore in opposite directions to the “herd” or consensus opinions” and encouraged “to present a spectrum of ideas … seeing the full spectrum is often very informative by itself”.

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