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Approaches to Preparing Young Scholars for Careers in Interdisciplinary Team Science
  1. Melissa D. Begg, ScD*,
  2. Gene Crumley, MDiv,
  3. Alecia M. Fair, MDiv,
  4. Camille A. Martina, PhD§,
  5. Wayne T. McCormack, PhD,
  6. Carol Merchant, MD, MPH,
  7. Cecilia M. Patino-Sutton, MD, MEd, PhD**,
  8. Jason G. Umans, MD, PhD††
  1. *From the Mailman School of Public Health and Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Columbia University, New York, NY; †Business and Leadership, University of California, Davis Extension, Davis, CA; ‡Research Support Services, Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical Translational Research (VICTR), Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; §University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Department of Public Health Sciences and Environmental Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY; ∥Clinical & Translational Science Predoctoral Training Programs, University of Florida Clinical & Translational Science Institute, and Department of Pathology, Immunology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL; ¶Common Fund Career Development Programs, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD; **Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; and ††Georgetown University MedStar Health Research Institute, Hyattsville, MD, and Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.
  1. Received June 10, 2013, and in revised form September 24, 2013.
  2. Accepted for publication September 25, 2013.
  3. Reprints: Melissa D. Begg, ScD, Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Office of the Dean, Mailman School of Public Health, 722 W 168th St, Room 1411A, New York, NY 10032 E-mail: mdb3{at}
  4. This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Center for Research Resources and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), National Institutes of Health, through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) program. The manuscript was approved by the CTSA Consortium Publications Committee. All institutions are supported by the NCATS, National Institutes of Health, through the CTSA program, a trademark of DHHS, part of the Roadmap Initiative, “Re-engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise; Columbia University, Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (grant UL1TR000040); Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (grant UL1TR000101); University of California, Davis (grant UL1TR000002); University of Florida Clinical & Translational Science Institute (grant UL1TR000064); University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (grant UL1TR000042); University of Southern California (grant ULT1TR000130); and Vanderbilt University (grant UL1TR000445).


To succeed as a biomedical researcher, the ability to flourish in interdisciplinary teams of scientists is becoming ever more important. Institutions supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) from the National Institutes of Health have a specific mandate to educate the next generation of clinical and translational researchers. While they strive to advance integrated and interdisciplinary approaches to education and career development in clinical and translational science, general approaches and evaluation strategies may differ, as there is no single, universally accepted or standardized approach. It is important, therefore, to learn about the different approaches used to determine what is effective. We implemented a Web-based survey distributed to education leaders at the 60 funded CTSA institutions; 95% responded to the survey, which included questions on the importance of preparation for interdisciplinary team science careers, methods used to provide such training, and perceived effectiveness of these training programs. The vast majority (86%) of education leaders reported that such training is important, and about half (52%) of the institutions offer such training. Methods of training most often take the form of courses and seminars, both credit bearing and noncredit. These efforts are, by and large, perceived as effective by the training program leaders, although long-term follow-up of trainees would be required to fully evaluate ultimate effectiveness. Results from the survey suggest that CTSA education directors believe that specific training in interdisciplinary team science for young investigators is very important, but few methodologies are universally practiced in CTSA institutions to provide training or to assess performance. Four specific recommendations are suggested to provide measurable strategic goals for education in team science in the context of clinical and translational research.

Key Words
  • interdisciplinary
  • team science
  • trainees

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