Interdisciplinary collaborations pave the way for big ideas in health.
Members of the smart drug therapies research cluster were among the presenters at the Big Ideas In Health forum.

“THE IDEA IS TO START a conversation,” says Professor of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences Bongsup Cho, referring to the Big Ideas in Health forum, which he organized with Professor of Psychology David Faust in April. Hosted by the Institute for Integrated Health and Innovation, the event promoted interdisciplinary collaborations across the University.

“We don’t have a medical school, but we have very impressive biomedical and engineering talent at URI,” says Cho, whose own collaboration––a smart therapies research cluster, formed by faculty in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, biology, physics, and chemical engineering—was among the projects presented at the event. With fellow College of Pharmacy faculty Xinyuan Chen, Deyu Li, and Jie Shen among its group of researchers, the smart drug therapies cluster brings a cross-disciplinary team together for regular brainstorming and information-sharing brown bag lunches, focusing on themes such as mechanism-based drug delivery systems to address non-adherence and drug release systems that respond to signals such as light and temperature. “Nationally, we are seeing these types of collaborations make a real difference in health research,” says Cho.

From theatre students simulating a hospital room environment for nursing students, to a university-based retirement community that promotes aging in place, collaborations presented at the Big Ideas forum spanned departments from the fine arts to nursing.

“We each have our own expertise, but we have to work together to see the bigger outcome,” says Cho. “This is only the beginning.”

Pictured (left to right): Dan Roxbury (Chemical Engineering), Stephen Kennedy (Chemical Engineering), Jie Shen (Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chemical Engineering), Samantha Meenach (Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chemical Engineering), Bongsup Cho (Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences), Deyu Li (Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences), Niall Howlett (Cell and Molecular Biology), and Xinyuan Chen (Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences)

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