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Approaches to Preparing Young Scholars for Careers in Interdisciplinary Team Science


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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