Successful Synergy by Michael Caplan

What attracted me to the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, and what has kept me here throughout my professional career, is the simple fact that people talk to each other. This is a Department composed of scientists representing a wide variety of backgrounds, outlooks and interests. Cell biologists, biophysicists, molecular biologists and biochemists (among many others) are all co-mingled among our faculty, postdocs and students. Despite this diversity, however, communication flourishes-scientists talk to one another. There are no field lines and there are no stature boundaries. The most junior student talks to the most senior professor and the most biophysical patch clamper talks to the most morphology-minded cell biologist. From all of this interchange arises a remarkable synergy-collaborative experiments are hatched around the cookie tray and new ways of thinking about old problems emerge from winter walks around Woods Hole's Nobska light house during the Departmental Retreat. Physiology is not a single discipline-it is a crazy-quilt of approaches applied to the problem of how organisms persist in a hostile world. It is simultaneously a molecular, cellular and whole systems-oriented science. The collection of people in this Department, and the culture of communication which unites them, creates an environment well suited to the investigation of such enormous questions. The atmosphere of spontaneous and informal interaction which characterizes this Department is (at least in my experience) a rare and precious thing that has made working here a joy.