Q&A with Maria Freire, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH)
Q. How would you describe the purpose and goals of FNIH to your mom?
A: In Spanish of course! Kidding aside, I’d tell her that FNIH is unique because we are at the interface of the public and private sectors, which allows us to bring multiple groups together through alliances that achieve much more than any one group individually. This way, we help the biomedical community take advantage of the unprecedented scientific opportunities that are now available to generate new knowledge and novel technologies. All leading to better cures and disease and disability prevention. We streamline pathways to discovery and implementation, thereby supporting the NIH and its mission.
Q. Involvement in consortia goes beyond the scope of a regular day-job. What keeps you motivated to stay at it?
A: The FNIH work is exciting, important and transformational. We are helping change the way we do business in the biomedical sector – we question existing parameters, test the status quo and clear new, clever paths to accomplish our goals. I know we will leave a legacy that will benefit people all over the world. What could be more motivating?
Q. What has surprised you the most about all of the consortia under FNIH’s umbrella? What weren’t you expecting?
A: I am most surprised that there is no single formula for what we do. To use the words of my colleague – when you have seen one partnership, you have seen one partnership. Although we have models and we tap our prior experience, each program is different and the parameters for the collaboration need to reflect those distinctive characteristics. I was very pleasantly surprised, indeed, at the creative group of people and the exceptionally nimble and solid structure of FNIH.
Q. If you could trade places with anyone in the world for one week, who would it be?
A: I would not really want to trade places with anyone but it would be great fun to do something completely different for a week. For example, I’d love to learn to wire a house…maybe spend a week at Women Build at Habitat for Humanity? Or I would really like to learn to fly – so I’d spend a week learning how to pilot a small plane. You get the idea….
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