Of Mice and Men


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Greetings. It is time once again for the latest Nobel Prizes to be awarded and a chance to celebrate the innovators in many fields who are pushing the bounds of human knowledge. It’s also a great time to think about the power of collaboration as these awards are often given to two or more people working together over time and geography to ask questions, test hypotheses, solve problems and put together pieces of a puzzle that really matter.

The latest award for medicine is a great case in point. The three winners–Ralph Steinman (a Canadian working at Rockfeller University in New York City), Bruce Beutler (an American currently at the Scripps Research Institute in California) and Jules Hoffmann (a Luxembourg-born scientist working in France)–were honored for breakthroughs on how the immune system works. Their research spans four decades of studying fruit flies, mice and humans. And while they were each working on different problems and in different places, the joining of their insights provides a different way of thinking about collaboration and suggests the value of scanning the world for other parts of the solutions to our own puzzles.

It turns out there are two types of immune responses that, at their best, protect us and other animals from an attack by bacteria and other microorganisms. These responses are “innate” immunity which is our first line of defense in battling the bad guys. Our innate immunity creates a protective barrier and triggers inflammation that blunts their abilities. When this fails our “adaptive” immunity kicks in, producing antibodies and killer cells that destroy our infected cells. Then our adaptive immunity remembers the intruders so we can create a more powerful response the next time these microorganisms invade our bodies. This insight is fundamental to ongoing research that might someday enable us to stop the spread of many intractable diseases. Though unfortunately we are not quite there. In a sad note, Dr. Steinman died from pancreatic cancer three days before receiving his award…though he had tried to adapt his Nobel-winning insights into therapies in the fight against his own cancer.

Three faces in the crowd–or is that three faces in three slightly different crowds.

Working on three different parts of a very important puzzle.


We win in business and in life when we work together for the good of others. And when we find the other pieces to a puzzle worth solving.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan Gregerman
Alan Gregerman is an award-winning author, consultant and keynote speaker who has been called "one of the most original thinkers in business today" and "the Robin Williams of business consulting." His work focuses on helping companies and organizations to unlock the genius in all of their people in order to deliver the most compelling value to their customers.


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