Collaboration and Multidisciplinary Team Science


Over the past two decades interest and investments in large-scale, multidisciplinary team projects have grown dramatically. This is evident by the steep growth in the number of cross-disciplinary publications, journals, RFPs released by public agencies and private foundations, and research collaborations.

When communication is open and effective, team members feel important and confident that their opinions count. An efficient communication approach brings together people from different backgrounds with varying ideologies. This creates understanding among teammates for the greater good. The diversity is easily converted into an advantage based on mutual understanding that facilitates progress. Eventually, the entire team is able to benefit from synergy.

The twin goals of UB's Team Science Core are, first, to help assemble multidisciplinary clinical research teams with the right kind of chemistry for success and, second, to quantify, measure and better understand the principles of effective teamwork that make the first goal possible.

Trust is when you give the benefit of the doubt to someone else. Psychological safety is when someone else gives the benefit of the doubt to you.

Eduardo Salas, PhD
Department of Psychological Sciences
Rice University

The CTSI's Team Science Core defines teamwork to be the set of behaviors executed by two or more individuals as a function of coordinating requirements imposed by independent tasks in achieving common goals (such as a grant submission, a manuscript, grant review committee, or implementation of a new clinical device). Therefore, team coordination is the essence of teamwork: it is the process, the moment-to-moment behaviors, by which independent team members achieve important goals and share valuable resources (i.e., ideas, cell culture, patient access, or time).

Targets for Team Science Activities in the Research Continuum

recruit,ent flow chart.

Specific Aims of the Team Science Core

To promote a culture of multidisciplinary collaboration and teamwork
  • Acknowledge and showcase the role of teams and collaborations in scientific innovation
  • Remove barriers for hiring, retention, promotion and tenure of highly productive, collaborative, team-oriented researchers
  • Maximize opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration and teamwork
To create opportunities for training and coached experiential learning
  • For all levels of faculty, research partners and trainees
To Create a system and metric for assessing team effectiveness and productivity
  • Assessment of collaborative environment
  • Evaluation of team performance

Criteria for Evaluating Team Performance

Team Effectiveness
  • Timeliness
  • Team growth/turn over
  • Research innovation
Attitudinal Outcomes
  • Psychological safety
  • Exploitation
  • Loss of promotion
Behavioral Outcomes (team members & surrounding community)
  • Team/organizational reputation
  • Trust
  • Satisfaction

The relative importance of each dimension depends on particular values, activities or tasks of the teams (e.g., basic research, education, community outreach, or implementation).

Organizational Culture

The 7 C's of Teamwork
  1. Competence: Right people with right mix of knowledge, skills and abilities
  2. Cooperation: Right attitude and willingness to team
  3. Coordination: Demonstrate necessary team behaviors
  4. Communication: Communicate effectively and appropriately
  5. Cognition: Shared understanding of goals, priorities, vision
  6. Coaching: Leadership, monitoring, feedback and continuous learning
  7. Conditions: Favorable conditions, culture, resources, incentives, leadership


Internal Collaborations

Team Science Core reach and activities are woven throughout all of the UB CTSI cores, especially:

These partnerships foster an environment that promotes and accelerates scientific innovation by creating productive transdisciplinary alliances, equipping investigators at all levels of training with skills and resources to effectively communicate with partners within and outside of their own area of expertise (including academic, industry and community partners).

External Collaborations

Team Leadership and Culture

Team-based Learning and Skills

Team Outcomes Assessment


UB's CTSI has initiated a wide range of pioneering initiatives, programs and interventions that reach across the entire Buffalo Translational Consortium and national CTSA consortium.

Update of current promotion guidelines for medical school faculty

  • Approved in the summer of 2017 and presented in October 2017
  • Also offer coaching/consultation to chairs on mentoring multidisciplinary scientists and assembling promotion dossiers for faculty with cross-disciplinary expertise

Emphasis on team science competencies in medical school curriculum

  • LCME reaccreditation
  • Interprofessional education activities

Translational Teamwork Workshop Series for 2017-2019

  • Featuring leading national and international experts on team performance, workforce diversity, engagement, and cross-disciplinary innovation
  • Six two-hour workshops open to the entire UB and greater Buffalo community. Each session recorded to be shared with other CTSA hubs

Innovation Lab Buffalo, Sponsored by UB CTSI supplement award

  • 25 early-career researchers affiliated with CTSAs from across the US
  • Used innovative team science approaches resulting in development of eight innovative research programs addressing the opioid epidemic

Expansion of multidisciplinary research training/faculty dev programs

  • K12 Health Services Research Fellowship
  • Surgical Outcomes Research Fellowship (UB-SOAR)
  • Surgical Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation (UB-RISE)
  • K12 Mentored Training Program in Implementation Science
  • Training Programs in Biomedical Informatics (VA/NCI)

Supporting new multidisciplinary teams

  • UB CTSI pilot studies grant teams
  • Problem Solving Skills Training in Adult Cancer Survivors: Bright IDEAS-AC (NIH-funded, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions, Wilmot and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center)
  • Breast Cancer Pathways Impact on Patient Shared Decision Making and Experience in Academic and Community Practice (NCCN/Pfizer, Roswell Park, Community Oncology, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions)
  • Developing Novel Strategies to Increase Utilization of Renin Angiotensin-Aldosterone System (RAAS) Blockade Drugs in Patients with Heart Failure (Erie County Medical Center, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions, PCRI, K12 Faculty Scholar Program)
  • Development and Implementation of a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Care Transition Intervention Integrating Pharmacists onto the Care Team (UB School of Pharmacy, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions, Jacobs School)
  • Preoperative respiratory muscle training to prevent postoperative pulmonary complications in patients undergoing resection for lung cancer (NIH R01, PI: Ray, Roswell Park, HSPP, PT)
  • Linking New York State databases to identify risk factors and gaps in care for health disparities in cancer care (CTSI-funded pilot, with Darryl Somayaji, PhD, UB School of Nursing, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions, Roswell Park, UB School of Pharmacy)
  • NYU Wagner School of Social Work (Dean Sherry Glied): leveraged the New York State Medicaid data to evaluate social policies that can make meaningful improvements in the health of low-income populations

Translational Teamwork Workshop Series

These days, teamwork is widely recognized as the essential component of innovation, efficiency and high quality. In public health and biomedical research, partners include:

  • Patients
  • Caregivers
  • Advocacy groups
  • Academic and community clinicians
  • Members of underrepresented minorities and special populations
  • Community-based organizations
  • Industry partners
  • Payers and managed care organizations
  • Local and national policy makers
  • Public health organizations and many others

Presented in partnership with the CTSI's Workforce Development Core, the Translational Teamwork Workshop Series provides participants with basic knowledge of teamwork principles applicable in any and all of these contexts. 

Our Team


Ekaterina I. Noyes, PhD, MPH

Division of Health Services Policy and Practice, Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health

School of Public Health and Health Professions


Patricia Ohtake, PhD, PT

Department of Rehab Science

School of Public Health and Health Professions


Prasad Balkundi, PhD, MBA

Department of Organization and Human Resources 

School of Management