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Jeff Bluestone tells Xconomy San Francisco that, as a result of recent advances in genomics, partnerships between academia and industry are both "logical and appropriate." Industry's impressive investment in data generation "has actually left a hole" in terms of functional interpretation, says Bluestone, an executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, San Francisco. "On the other hand, academia appreciates how all of that investment has really created a set of tools that will help academics really realize some of the larger challenges to doing research." Rather than working separately in their own labs, academic researchers at UCSF and elsewhere "now realize that you need access to big tools," he says. To that end, Bluestone says it's important that academic institutions remain, to the best of their abilities, in a pre-competitive space when working with industry. This consideration, among others in what Bluestone calls a "core set of principles" for these partnerships, has helped to keep both parties' concerns at bay, which has served to strengthen collaborations, he says. At the end of the day, "I still believe academia is the source for novel ideas, for early understanding of biological systems, being able to bring together diverse pieces of information in an adaptive way to really think about a problem in a different way than industry is used to," Bluestone says. "I see industry partnerships now being driven by opportunities to do better research, different kinds of research, to allow investigators who want to drive their science to clinical intervention and through drug development."

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