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The Director Discusses:
Promoting a New Wave of Collaborative Initiatives

Photo: John F. Greden, M.D.Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has said that “disciplinary science has died” and that team science and collaboration are the wave of the future.  If true—and I believe it is—what is going to replace it?   And what is the Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center doing to respond to and lead this new wave?

Collaborations Led by the Next Generation
Many interdisciplinary, collaborative programs are underway at the Depression Center, but one of particular interest is a for-credit practicum involving five undergraduate students majoring in psychology.  It is revealing to look at what these undergraduates accomplished during their practicum.

Samantha Bernstein drafted press releases for Depression Screening Day and various lectures, interviewed Center faculty members to create written profiles for print and web, compiled documentation on the Center’s press materials, and contributed to the newly-developing “Ask the Expert” web column. Samantha believes her work made a real difference in educating patients and the public.  So do I.  And, by increasing her own learning along the way, Samantha benefitted from our mission of educating the next generation!

Jean Kim led efforts to develop this featured column. She assisted me in writing posts and she collaborated with our web developer in creating the web column.  Jean also helped write articles to be published in various psychiatry journals. These articles will explain why a Depression Center is so important as an integrative, interdisciplinary research/clinical/educational initiative.

Brett Tewksbury helped our Education and Outreach staff to improve the Center’s new Campus Mind Works website This website provides information on wellness, campus resources and practical advice to U-M students who have a diagnosed mental health disorder.  Tewksbury’s work included creating surveys and polling focus groups to discern ways to improve to the website. Through this experience, Brett acquired a true sense of the impact of a mental health disorder on college students.
Asari Offiong assisted the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry team. Her project was to update “The Wall,” an area where clinicians retrieve information to give to parents about different disorders and issues.  Asari’s updated outdated materials, identifed new ones,  and created one-page resource guides on a variety of disorders .  She went the distance, and then some, to the great satisfaction of the Chief Resident and other faculty and staff!
Andrea Sexton supported the Center’s Chief of Staff in several administrative projects. Three of the largest projects involved the soon-to-be-released Depression Center Toolkit. Her tasks included condensing content into one-page patient “fact sheets,” creating a spreadsheet to review currently available online depression resources, and organizing ideas brainstormed at the Center’s annual retreat concerning areas of prioritization for the next few years. Andrea acknowledges the refreshing opportunity to observe administrators at work and to complete projects with a tangible final product; it has not been “just a class with exams and papers.” She states that, “Collaboration is very obviously a way of life in the administrative offices of the Depression Center!”  I share Andrea’s assessment.

These students contributed importantly to the success of the Depression Center mission. In the future, we hope that their lead will be followed in different parts of the country as collaborations with other National Network of Depression Center sites grow and expand.  

We are doing exactly what Alan Leshner recommends: actively advancing team science by  building bridges that enable us to learn from each other. Doing so with involvement from student interns has been extremely rewarding!


John F. Greden, M.D.

Read other messages from our director.