Introduction: Optimizing the effectiveness of a team-based approach to unite multiple disciplines in advancing specific translational areas of research is foundational to improving clinical practice. The current study was undertaken to examine investigators' experiences of participation in transdisciplinary team science initiatives, with a focus on challenges and recommendations for improving effectiveness. Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with investigators from twelve multidisciplinary teams awarded pilot research funding by the University of Kentucky College of Medicine to better understand the barriers and facilitators to effective team science within an academic medical center. An experienced qualitative researcher facilitated one-on-one interviews, which lasted about one hour. Structured consensus coding and thematic analysis were conducted. Results: The sample was balanced by gender, career stage (five were assistant professor at the time of the award, seven were senior faculty), and training (six were PhDs; six were MD physicians). Key themes at the team-level centered on the tension between clinical commitments and research pursuits and the limitations for effective team functioning. Access to tangible support from home departments and key university centers was identified as a critical organizational facilitator of successful project completion. Organizational barriers centered on operationalizing protected time for physicians, gaps in effective mentoring, and limitations in operational support. Conclusions: Prioritizing tailored mentoring and career development support for early career faculty, and particularly physician faculty, emerged as a key recommendation for improving team science in academic medical centers. The findings contribute to establishing best practices and policies for team science in academic medical centers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 23 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Turning to the question of organizational level supports for team science, a primary theme mentioned by seven investigators was the orientation and support of their home department and key university centers as critical factors in successfully implementing and completing these pilot awards, through the provision of infrastructure and support services. My department's very supportive of my research time and was supportive of me being able to apply for the MVP grant, even though it couldn't fund my effort. I think from an institutional standpoint, having these awards that are just well-respected within the university. So being able to go in, when I was talking to folks about recruitment saying, this is the MVP award, funded by the College of Medicine, supported by the Dean of our College was a helpful kind of bridge, especially as I was making new relationships. I do think offering these things, it really did help me launch my research here. I would not have been able to do the pilot study without the support of [de-identified] and running clinical trials. The mentorship and day to day support setting up good clinical practices, study management, statistical support.

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Chang Liu and Hannah Yeager for their coding assistance. This work was supported by CTSA grant UL1TR001998 (PK, HS, VK, TK). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center for Advancing Translational Science or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Association for Clinical and Translational Science.


  • Team science
  • career development
  • physician scientist
  • pilot programs
  • program evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Optimizing team science in an academic medical center: A qualitative examination of investigator perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this