Stacie Bloom on Managing Across Work Disciplines

In Chapter 16 of 18 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, Neuroscience Institute Executive Director Stacie Grossman Bloom answers "How Are You Learning to Work More Effectively Across Different Disciplines?"  For Bloom it starts with respecting the different cultures within each discipline.  This allows her to then find better ways to encourage and support collaboration across disciplines.  She shares her experience doing so encouraging translational research between basic scientists and clinical scientists. 

Stacie Grossman Bloom is Executive Director for the Neuroscience Institute at the NYU Langone Medical Center.  Previously, she was VP and Scientific Director at the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) and, before that, held editorial roles at the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Nature Medicine.  She earned her BA in chemistry and psychology from the University of Delaware, her PhD in Neurobiology and Cell Biology at Georgetown University and did post-doctoral training in Paul Greengard's Nobel Laboratory of Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience at Rockefeller University. 


Erik Michielsen:  How are you learning to work more effectively across different disciplines?

Stacie Grossman Bloom:  I think I’m learning to work more effectively across different disciplines simply by virtue of having a better understanding of the perspectives of those different disciplines. Understanding that different disciplines have different cultures, and learning as a supervisor or a manager how to serve role with that, how to adapt my expectations to that, how to encourage collaborations between people who have different perspectives.

You know, one specific example is, and it’s funny, it’s just very timely, so we had this meeting last week, it was called the translational interface committee, and this is a group of department chairs, from the basic science side and from the clinical side, so the chairman of Neurology and a Neuroscience researcher, a big meeting, and we talked a lot about how do we encourage translational research, how can we get clinicians into the labs, to understand the basic science so that they can go back and treat the patient with schizophrenia or Parkinson’s disease. 

Those cultures are really different, the culture of a clinical scientist is very different from the culture of a basic scientist, and it’s very interesting to put those populations of people together. It’s usually very successful, it’s very collaborative, it’s—ends up being very collegial but there might be a little bit hesitance on the clinician’s part to go into the lab because the science can be a little bit intimidating. These are very smart people but it’s a different training, it’s a little bit of a different background and from the basic scientist part, the clinician may be a little bit intimidating, you know, that’s the person who’s going head-to-head with the patient and solving the problems in the clinic. 

So I think breaking down that wall and showing people that what you, sort of what you perceive to be intimidating or what you perceive to be a cultural difference, you know, in reality when you get two people in a room they’re usually okay.