GRF Scientific Advisors on Collaborative Research

Members of our Scientific Advisory Board talk about the success of the Catalyst for a Cure collaborative research model.

When Glaucoma Research Foundation launched Catalyst for a Cure in 2002, our bold idea was to recruit the most promising young researchers from different fields to work together collaboratively to accelerate discoveries that would lead to a cure for glaucoma.

We now have a proven collaborative research model that has broadened the understanding of glaucoma.

Our Scientific Advisory Board intentionally sought experts outside the mainstream of glaucoma investigation to ensure a fresh perspective.

In this video, three of those Advisors talk about the success of this collaborative research model.

Video Transcript

Russell Van Gelder, MD, PhD: “Catalyst for a Cure” is a unique way to address a difficult clinical problem. We know glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness. We know a fair amount about the biology of glaucoma, but we really don’t know how to predict who’s going to get glaucoma of all the people who have high eye pressure, when to intervene for those patients, and really how to prevent glaucoma from robbing people’s vision. The model of the Catalyst program is to take outstanding young scientists, bring them together, including people who are not in the glaucoma field but have great expertise in the areas that we think are pertinent to this, and ask them to work together.

Monica Vetter, PhD: The Catalyst for a Cure is a unique mechanism for promoting scientific research because it’s a way to invest in teams of researchers that bring diverse expertise to bear on a common goal or a common problem. This is actually fairly unusual in science, because often people are funded in their individual laboratories to do specific projects, but by bringing people together that have unique skills, it enables you to do experiments that no one group alone would be able to do, and so the combined effect is much more powerful and impactful in the end, so I think it really has the ability to make transformative advances that wouldn’t be possible with traditional funding mechanisms.

Martin Raff, MD: Competition is probably a good thing for curiosity-based research where you’re trying to discover how the world works, but if you’re trying to understand and treat or prevent a disease, this is quite a different thing. It’s like putting a man on the moon. You have a very focused goal. You know what the goal is, and I think collaboration is an efficient way of going about it, and I think both Catalyst for a Cure groups that I have been on the advisory boards of, I think, have been very effective. They’ve collaborated. Their progress has no doubt been faster than it would have been if they’d been working independently, and moreover, it brings people who were not interested in glaucoma to work on glaucoma.


First posted June 9, 2016; Last reviewed June 22, 2022.