CTSA Program members collaborate to recognize the growing importance of team science

The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program has identified team science as a critical element of clinical and translational research. To highlight and encourage team science-related efforts among the consortium, CTSA Program members collaborated to create and execute the Great CTSA Team Science Contest, which lead to 170 submissions from more than 40 institutions, and a grand total of 11 winners.

The contest, which was organized by the Institutional Readiness for Team Science Work Group of the Methods & Processes Domain Task Force, sought out the best examples of novel ideas for encouraging better collaboration and teamwork in biomedical research.

The rules were simple: think of something that’s been done at your hub to advance team science and write it down in the style of a newspaper or magazine article. Drum up a catchy headline (15 words or less!) and first paragraph explaining the who, what, where, when, why and how, and you’re ready to submit. Winners would receive something way more valuable than a cash prize: bragging rights.

And while the contest organizers were admittedly ‘tongue-in-cheek’ in their advertisements, the end-goal was purposeful.

“We hoped this contest would give us a good picture of the kinds of team science innovations the hubs are involved with so that we ultimately have an easily accessible database of examples,” said Bill Trochim, Director of Evaluation for the Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center, and ‘brain-child’ of the contest. “We plan to follow-up on many of the submissions to get the ‘full story’ and promote their successes and creativity on a broader scale.”

Submissions highlighted a range of initiatives from ones involving mobile applications to data catalogs to a firefighter-scientist collaboration. For each story that was submitted, five judges from around the consortium were randomly selected by a software system to rate the submissions on aspects like importance, influence and impact. The scores were then analyzed by a team of biostatisticians, with the highest-rated submissions in different categories declared the winners.

The 11 winners, listed below, were formally announced and recognized by Dr. Michael Kurilla, director of the Division of Clinical Innovation at NCATS, at the 2018 Fall CTSA Program Meeting.

“Scientific collaboration is arguably more important than ever,” said Dr. Kurilla after the meeting. “When it comes to translational science, it’s particularly beneficial to bring together researchers with diverse scientific backgrounds and perspectives to address and solve complex problems that can’t be solved in silos.”

The contest organizers hope to turn this effort into a regular event, given its success in this initial round. Further details about the contest and this year’s winners can be viewed here.


2018 Great CTSA Team Science Contest winners:

  • Mayo Clinic Rochester, Center for Clinical and Translational Science: Area stakeholders build network for promoting health and continuous learning
  • Medical University of South Carolina, Clinical and Translational Research Institute: Smartphone App Improves Communication and Teamwork in Trauma Care
  • New York University School of Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science Institute: Finding collaborators through data: the Data Catalog Collaboration Project
  • State University of New York at Buffalo, Clinical and Translational Science Institute: Promotion and tenure for Team Science Faculty: A Case Report
  • University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Clinical & Translational Science Institute: Stop, drop and roll: Firefighters and Scientists Team Up to Put Out Cancer Risks
  • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research: MCubed Brings Teams Together
  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, North Carolina Translational & Clinical Science Institute: Successful Research Collaborations Follow “Engineering Solutions to Health Problems: A Workshop
  • University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, Institute for Translational Sciences: Team Science Competency Model Established to Provide Evidence-Based Foundational Skills to the CTSA Consortium
  • University of Washington, Institute of Translational Health Sciences: Engineering Innovation in Health: Interdisciplinary teams solving unmet health challenges with technical solutions
  • Virginia Commonwealth University, Center for Clinical and Translational Research: DEAP: The Diabetes Engagement and Activation Platform
  • Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Clinical and Translational Science Institute: Translational Research Scholars Learn to Form, Storm, Norm and Perform!