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Forming Interdisciplinary Expertise: One Organization's Journey On The Road To Translational Nanomedicine.

Sharon Tsai-hsuan Ku
Published 2012 · Medicine

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This paper provides a sociological account of how researchers of different disciplines become experts in translational nanomedicine. Using a case study of the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the author argues that the relationship between the different disciplines involved in translational nanomedicine should be understood in the broader sociopolitical context of the boundary politics between the academy, industry, and government. This study suggests that the process of training the nanobio expert is not simply a process of inculcating skills; it is also a process of institution building. In the case of the NCL, sustaining the laboratory's existence at the interface between the university, industry, and government informed how researchers practiced interdisciplinarity and cultivated their interdisciplinary expertise. It required mobilizing institutional resources through administrative/managerial strategies. Viewing the formation of a professional identity as a social process helps clarify the meaning of interdisciplinarity and provides insight in evaluating the performance of interdisciplinary collaboration and the design of nanoscience education.

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