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A Great Wisconsin Experiment

On the fifth anniversary of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Chris Bradfield reflects on transcending limitations through collaboration.

Wisconsin sunrise over snow

We are a great Wisconsin experiment. Our approach is to drive innovation by developing novel scientific connections and communities.

At WID, we build unique transdisciplinary teams to solve the most important questions of the day.

These teams are nimble and transitory; they form as needed to address specific problems. As goals are met, the teams dissolve and members reorganize into new teams that are best suited for the next big problem. Within our walls, discoveries emerge at the interfaces between engineers, biologists, ethicists, molecular geneticists, chemists, mathematicians, health care professionals, software designers and computer scientists.

Walking the floors, you can see these teams in all stages: at one table, a newly formed team conceives an experiment to build a spinal cord patch, while in a nearby conference room another team discusses the best way to organize the power grid. The next day our scientists may reorganize with one team building a virtual model of a health care environment to improve patient outcomes, another identifying migratory barriers in efforts to restore native fish populations, and still others building a game that provides a public explanation to antibiotic resistance, or discovering novel biomarkers of human disease.

By driving scientific advancement in this new way, we are a great Wisconsin experiment, addressing problems important to our state, while at the same time developing new approaches to discovery that transcend the limitations of traditional academic disciplines.

–Chris Bradfield, Interim Director, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

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