Prof. Rüdiger Hehlmann, ELN Foundation and Heidelberg University, published an article in Cancer last year.
ELN is partner of the HARMONY Alliance. View also our post about the 15th Annual ELN-Symposium.
Building consortia sounds straight forward and simple since the advantage of consortia for the advancements particularly of rare diseases seems obvious: achieving goals faster by combining forces and resources. The insight for the individual scientist that cooperation is better than competition for one’s personal career, is not so obvious. If one wants to incorporate younger colleagues competing for grants and promotions, it is essential that they realize that consortia not only advance the field but also their career. A good starting experience for younger colleagues may be participation in defined scope clinical study groups. Consortia require interaction between people. Even if the reason for interaction is clear, consortia need motivated individuals, in the case of leukemias hematologists, medical oncologists and scientists like cytogeneticists, molecular biologists or statisticians who are motivated to interact.
The strongest motivation for cooperation is success. Consortia need to be structured for the most possible success to the largest possible number of people to have the optimum impact on the field. Working together successfully requires an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual trust. Regular meetings at little or no cost for the participants are essential to get to know and trust each other and achieve the best possible outcome.
This does not happen per chance at big international conferences like ASH, EHA, AACR and ASCO but requires organization and structuring by an established authority or institution of excellence with personal contacts to leading hematologists and scientists. Networks of excellence such as the European LeukemiaNet (ELN) have proven to serve this purpose well.
ELN, founded in 2002, originates from a consortium dealing with one leukemia in most European countries, the European Investigators on Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (EI-CML), and a consortium dealing with all leukemias in one country, the German Competence Network for Acute and Chronic Leukemias. Its goal is to cure leukemia by cooperative research. To achieve this goal the need for accelerating progress by combining resources (patients) was recognized, but also the need for a ‘common language’ for cooperation, i.e. common definitions of diagnosis and outcome and common standards and data sets e.g. for conducting clinical trials or monitoring of treatment.
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