Team science is a collaborative effort that leverages the strengths and expertise of professionals trained in different areas to address a scientific challenge. While team science may seem intuitive, it’s a relatively new approach to conducting research, given that historically, single investigator-driven approaches are ideal for many scientific endeavors. As diseases have become more and more complicated, and oftentimes many different diseases manifest as one, coordinated teams of investigators with diverse skills and knowledge are becoming the norm, especially when facing grand challenges, like trying to find a cure for triple negative breast cancer or ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
We spoke with three Indiana University School of Medicine Precision Health Initiative leaders. Here’s what they had to say about how team science has helped them to achieve several of their goals.
“I have been involved in leading two Precision Health Initiative programs that have been highly reflective of team science,” said Alan Palkowitz, PhD, leader of the Chemical Biology and Biotherapeutics Cluster in the Precision Health Initiative. “Of particular note is the creation of the NIH-funded Indiana University School of Medicine-Purdue University Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Discovery Center. The original grant proposal we assembled, and now the implementation of the center strategy, is built on team science principles, as drug discovery demands the integration of several scientific disciplines and technology platforms to translate a disease hypothesis into potential therapeutics.”
Peter Schwartz, MD, PhD, leads the Behavioral, Psychosocial, and Ethics Cluster. He is raising ethical questions to find answers and alter the future state of medicine. He says his research consists entirely of team science.
“We can’t do this work without having a whole range of specialties at the table,” said Schwartz.
Team science has allowed Schwartz to work with a number of scientists to figure out how to carry out studies ethically.
“Team science helps to identify the needs and gaps in data science,” said Huang. “It’s not just me, it’s a team. It’s a really great effort from everyone.”
Huang’s team is addressing research needs for several different disease and therapy conditions, including genomic sequencing.