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Faculty Involvement in Translational Research and Interdisciplinary Collaboration at a US Academic Medical Center

Abstract

Background Forty-six academic health centers have been awarded Clinical and Translational Science Awards by the National Institutes of Health to enhance health by advancing translational research.

Objective As a recipient of a Clinical and Translational Science Award, we aimed to determine the prevalence of translational and interdisciplinary collaboration at our institution.

Design, Setting, and Participants We surveyed all full-time faculty and postdoctoral fellows (n = 3870) in the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing and Engineering, in late 2008.

Main Outcome Measures Outcomes included (1) the proportion of investigators involved in early (T1), late (T2), and reverse translational (RT) research; (2) barriers to translational research; (3) attitudes about translational research; (4) involvement in interdisciplinary collaboration; and (5) barriers to collaboration.

Results With 1800 respondents, the response rate was 55% for faculty and 40% for postdoctoral fellows. Of the 1314 investigators with more than 30% of their time committed to research, 69% reported conducting 1 or more types of translational research (T1 = 79%, T2 = 36%, RT = 36%). Attitudes about translational research revealed both concern and uncertainty. Fifty-four percent of respondents described translational research as having complex regulatory requirements; 42% felt that an individual's contributions suffer from underrecognition, 39% described it as high risk, and 35% consider funding less secure for translational researchers. Collaboration across school and types of research was common. Forty-seven percent of basic scientists collaborated with a clinical investigator in the last year, and 56% of clinical investigators collaborated with a basic scientist.

Conclusions Overall, investigators who did translational research reported a greater number of collaborators than those who did not.

Key Words
  • clinical and translational research
  • interdisciplinary research
  • barriers
  • attitudes
  • collaboration

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