On Aug. 17, West Virginia University and Marshall University health faculty members held what may turn out to be a historic meeting at the Stonewall Resort in Lewis County. Together, Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Dean Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., and I announced a collaborative grant agreement between the two largest universities in West Virginia.

With each school committing $750,000, the program will funnel $1.5 million into the hands of our faculty health professionals and scientists over three years. There’s a catch – to be eligible for a grant, you have to find a colleague at the other school and tell us how you will work together to improve the health of West Virginians.

The goal of the program is to drive collaboration among faculty members from both institutions to create a golden moment for the state. They will establish teams and pilot programs to solve real problems for the state.

About half of the proposals will focus on translational research – taking research out of the lab and seeing how it can be applied to real people with real health problems. The other half is available for the development of active clinical programs – delivering healthcare in new ways to people and places in need now.

There was a big group of people from both schools at the event. We spent several hours talking about potential projects. I think each of us made new friends.

Ideas were popping all over the room: expanding the capability for tele-stroke to more hospitals, creating a program for addiction problems of newborns, enhancing behavioral health assets, expanding dental services, and creating programs to help elderly people who are often prescribed a confusing array of drugs.

We have come together to address the biggest health issues for West Virginia. We’ll start with Marshall and WVU first, and then bring in other forward-thinking providers and institutions.

All of us are better than some of us. The more goals we can set with these pilot programs, the more likely we will find something that works.

Eventually, we want to form a statewide network of providers to address the most important issues of our state – health, economic, and educational.

I am thankful that great leaders in healthcare for the state see the same goal – One West Virginia, better health, and better lives for our citizens, while creating the beacon opportunity to indelibly change the future of our state.

WVU and Marshall together?

It is a foundational reality that we all knew in grade school.

Blue and yellow make green.