I met some of my old pals and colleagues at the Angiogenesis Meeting this March in Chennai, India, and several topics came up one evening as we sat in a restaurant overlooking the Bay of Bengal. One was the recent financial crunch, especially the research fund cuts all over the world. Our discussion prompted one of my colleagues to suggest we do something like Dr. Yamanaka did: run a marathon to raise funds for research. That thought revived our interest in music, and a song I had composed a long time ago came back up. We named ourselves Angre & Nut – “An” from the angiogenesis meeting, and “Gre & Nut” from the first and last three letters of the resort Green Coconut in which the meeting was held.
In the following days, beside our journal club and weekly review meetings, we gave final shape to the song, composed to pay a tribute to the city of Chennai, where our lab in India is located. We launched the song in October, through a public charity trust, and it’s downloadable for about US$1. Though we did not raise millions, we were surprised to see people willing to donate for research funding. As a side benefit, though, I observed that our team had less inhibition and better communication in our project discussions and weekly meetings after the launch.
Our extra-curricular activities have made the team work better than it did before, and the activities were inspired by Prof. Shinya Yamanaka and his marathon-run to Nobel. I would strongly recommend that Principal Investigators try bringing out the hidden talents of your colleagues, as it can yield only better understanding and communication among all. It can also help gather research funds, as we experienced!