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Team Building: Critical Role of Interdisciplinary Research Teams in Translational Research

Team Building: Critical Role of Interdisciplinary Research Teams in Translational Research

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Team Building: Critical Role of Interdisciplinary Research Teams in Translational Research

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  1. Team Building: Critical Role of Interdisciplinary Research Teams in Translational Research C. Kent Osborne, M.D. Director, Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center Director, Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center

  2. Translational Research • Extending discoveries in the lab to improve care of the patient in the clinic • Taking clinical observations back to the lab to study in depth • Studying lab discoveries in human samples Lab Translation Clinic

  3. Example Breast Cancer Program, Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center

  4. Summary of Development of the Breast Cancer Program • Single basic scientist • Single clinical scientist • Collection of tumor tissue • Recruit biostatistician • Recruit additional basic and clinical scientists • Recruit pathologist • Start Breast Center to bring people from different disciplines together

  5. Translational Research Team • Research requires multidisciplinary expertise • Clinicians - illuminate the clinical problem - discuss with basic scientists - review lab research progress - carry out lab research themselves - ultimately do clinical trial

  6. Multidisciplinary Team • Laboratory scientists - discuss clinical issues with physician - coordinate research in preclinical models - contact clinician after making discovery to discuss translation - multiple scientists with different types of expertise might be involved (cell biologist, molecular biologist, geneticist, biochemist, molecular epidemiologist)

  7. Multidisciplinary Team con’t • Pathologist - key to translational research - access to human tissues and fluids - must be part of the team, not just a provider - develop assays for clinical or lab specimens - histopath of tissues

  8. Multidisciplinary Team con’t • Biostatistician - plan and design lab and clinical experiments - analyze data, statistical significance - advise on design of translational experiments - coordinate management and storage of data

  9. Multidisciplinary Team con’t • Clinical trial support personnel - research nurses - study coordinators - data managers - quality assurance - regulatory staff: IRB, FDA, industry

  10. How to Build the Team • Find an institution with the resources and research environment conducive to multidisciplinary “team” research • Recruit small but critical mass; get funding • PPGs, SPORE, Center, other collaborative grants • Build infrastructure: grants management, clinical trials support, regulatory and administrative staff • Recruit missing ingredients

  11. Important Features • Organizational structure to facilitate working together across disciplines • Frequent meetings to discuss results, address problems or plan future experiments • Creation of Center or Institute often helps to cross traditional dept boundaries • Strong leader who understands a little about a lot (some knowledge of all the disciplines) • Mechanism of retrieving, storing and annotating clinical specimens

  12. Potential Obstacles • Scientific presentations, publications: “who gets the credit?” • Academic standing and promotion: problem for service oriented team members • Intellectual property issues • Inter departmental interactions • Who or what group gets the grant credit and money? • Working with another institution

  13. Conclusions • Translational research is a relatively new discipline • Best way to make progress in clinical medicine; increasingly favored by NIH • Requires different disciplines to work together closely and communicate • Goes against traditional academic medicine culture • Requires team oriented people, not individualists

  14. Conclusions con’t • May necessitate new structures like Centers or Institutes • Requires new appreciation by promotion committees, funding agencies, etc • With the “right” group it can be fun and scientifically rewarding • There is too much for one person to know thus requiring a multi expert team

  15. Characteristics of a Leader • Pays more attention to those being led than him/herself • Humility with coworkers • Don’t be dictatorial; listen to group; let others win • Insecure person has no business being a leader • Actions should set example • Delegate and reward • Build team or family atmosphere • Vision, goals, strategy

  16. Closing Advise There is no telling how far a person can go if he/she is willing to give someone else the credit.