Changing Academic Institutional Culture to Facilitate and Support Team Science

Dr. Scott Leischow, Arizona State University; Ms. Andi Hess, Arizona State University; Dr. Deborah Williams, Arizona State University; Ms. Rachel Chown, Manchester Cancer Research Centre; Dr. Jennifer Cross, Colorado State University; Dr. Gaetano Lotrecchiano, The George Washington University

Fostering Team Science requires new thinking and paradigmatic shifts in academia both structurally and functionally in order to maximize collaborative science efforts that improve both the educational process and the advancement of science to address increasingly complex and interconnected societal challenges and opportunities.  Toward that end, INSciTS created a Special Interest Group (SIG) dedicated to Changing Academic Institutional Culture to Facilitate and Support Team Science.  In order to begin exploring the evolving academic environment in support of enhancing team science, the leadership of this new SIG propose a panel session to explore examples of academic initiatives designed to develop and implement new ways to address complex challenges by improving teams and team science.

The approach in this panel is to highlight three universities that are actively involved in organizational efforts to foster team science, and working to document that process: Colorado State University, the University of Manchester, and Arizona State University. In addition to 3 formal presentations by those institutions (see specifics below), we will identify another 5 institutions who will provide 5 minute ‘mini-talks’ on the 2 fundamental academic changes that their institutions have implemented to foster team science, followed by about a 5 minute discussant summary followed by general discussion among attendees. 

Introduction:  Scott Leischow, PhD (5 minutes)

Presentation 1: Rachel Chown, The University of Manchester (8 minutes)

Presentation 2: Jennifer Cross, Colorado State University (8 minutes)

Presentation 3: Deborah Williams, Arizona State University (8 minutes)

Presentation 4: Guy Lotrecchiano, The George Washington University (8 minutes)

Mini-presentations:  TBD (5 talks @ 5 minutes each)

Discussant: Andi Hess (5 minutes)

General discussion (15 minutes)


Rachel Chown, University of Manchester

Implementing a new way of answering our complex research questions, in healthcare and beyond

Effective changes in cancer treatment and care require a furthered awareness of multidisciplinary approaches to the increased complexity of patients. These are populations with multiple co-morbidities and polypharmacy based on aging cohorts, and are populations of unmet need within the UK. As a result, our academics institutions and hospitals need TS for the required expertise to manage these complex patients, and improve outcomes.

Two practical elements of the TS approach within the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC) will be presented; and both represent the plans for significant cultural and environmental change at the centre.

As part of a new programme, the MCRC is now strategically funding scientific projects that can show: (a) cross-disciplinary collaborations, (b) high-risk, high-impact ideas that will lead or can lead towards a step change in patient care, (c) newly formulated cross-disciplinary collaborations from different specialties, (d) projects that are unique to the Manchester environment

Additionally, the planned physical co-location of ‘non-traditional’ teams in the building of a new comprehensive cancer centre (set to complete in 2021) aims to facilitate and develop more of these multidisciplinary teams.

SciTS Presentation: Implementing a New Way of Answering Our Complex Research Questions, in Healthcare and Beyond

Jennifer Cross, Colorado State University

The Institutional Change Pyramid: Policy, Education, and Intervention

As society is facing increasingly complex problems, scientists and universities are looking for ways to build and develop larger and more transdisciplinary teams. How can universities provide support for transdisciplinary teams and support the culture change needed to develop and advance team science? Organizational change to support new models of science requires several components: new policies and procedures that incentivize and reward transdisciplinary and team science, educational offerings that expand the specific skill sets for transdisciplinary and team science, and developmental interventions for teams to enhance their effectiveness.  Two case studies will be presented that describe the spectrum of organizational change efforts. At the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, culture change efforts are focused on developing a spectrum of educational offerings that provide training for three primary audiences: senior researchers, junior researchers and pre and postdocs. At Colorado State University, the policies and procedures for annual review and tenure and promotion have been revised to explicitly support transdisciplinary science. In addition, Colorado State University has launched a program to fund and develop large transdisciplinary teams through the early stages of formation, preliminary data collection, and competition for external funding.  These two institutions demonstrate the range of activities and strategies being used by universities to support culture change.

SciTS Presentation: Pyramid of Institutional Change for Team Science

Deborah Williams, Arizona State University

A Network-centric College Transformation focused on Translational Education, Research and Community Engagement to Improve Population Health

At Arizona State University, a team of diverse faculty and staff came together in 2017-2018 to fully redesign ASU’s College of Health Solutions. The redesign was implemented with the goal of fostering team science, and included the elimination of departments and schools, linking innovative research and academic programs, and fostering translational science to improve population health. Two key components of this redesign are the creation of Translational Teams and Affinity Networks.  Translational Teams bring together scientists, students and community members to address health challenges through transdisciplinary research, academic program development, and community engagement.  Three different levels of Translational Teams have been implemented, ranging from incubation-oriented formative teams through established teams working to take their team to the next level.  Affinity Networks are designed to address and improve methods and practices to enhance College and Translational Team functioning, similar to ‘cores’ but broader in scope.  Thus far, 6 Translational Teams and 3 Affinity Networks have been implemented, and more are under development.

SciTS Presentation: A Network-centric College Transformation focused on Translational education, Research, and Community Engagement to Improve Population Health

Gaetano R. Lotrecchiano, The George Washington University

Normalizing Collaboration Across the Institutional Spectrum of Learning, Research, and Practice

While embarking on the task of enhancing collaboration on the university campus, one would think that organizational level strategies and infrastructures are the only way to achieve a culture of collaboration. In reality, though many universities espouse collaboration as a key strategic element in learning, research and common pratice, few structures and requirements are developed to ensure that such strategic interests become commonplace across the university. Normalizing collaboration starts with a commitment to the processes, behaviors, and expectations associated with shared knowledge and open environments. Individuals, small teams, local projects, and and changes in behavior and attitude are the beginning stages of creating a culture of collaboration university wide. In this presentation, the author will share some approaches used at GW that provide models for normalizing collaboration across the spectrum. 

SciTS Presentation: Creating a Culture of Collaboration at George Washington University (C3@GWU)