NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: Designing, Developing and Evaluating Team Science Support in an RD Office


  • Betsy Rolland, University of Wisconsin-Madison Carbone Cancer Center
  • David Widmer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Holly Falk-Krzesinski, Elsevier and Northwestern University

Thanks to our session scribe, MaryJo Banasik, University of Michigan Medical School!

Three seasoned research development professionals shared their expertise about how team science initiatives can be facilitated and supported by research development offices, including a discussion about the use of collaborative tools.

Holly Falk-Krzesinski provided an overview of what team science is, and how research development professionals can support team science by engaging in activities such as: facilitating collaboration, engaging in proposal development through funding opportunity identification and grantsmanship support, providing team science training, and policy advocacy that aligns appointment, promotion, and tenure guidelines with participation in team science work.

Betsy Rolland described how a new research development office with an emphasis on team science adopted several team science-specific areas of focus to build a team science infrastructure, such as support, education, interventions, and research. To work toward supporting team science, the research development office conducted a needs assessment and identified organizational barriers. A suite of services was developed along with manuals of operation that could be prototyped with small teams. Metrics were identified, such as quantifying demand for services and numbers of individuals and teams trained, as well as assessment of services and impact through satisfaction surveys.

David Widmer described a funding development team, including a position that will focus specifically on complex grants. The team is responsible for stimulating collaboration as well as providing hands-on support for complex proposals. The team is working to increase complex grant proposal submissions to add strategic value to the institution. Toward increasing submissions, the office is working on growing teams through sponsoring events such as speed dating on scientific techniques, maintaining a database, and incorporating empirical research, communication strategies, and best practices into their complex grant development activities.

Holly Falk-Krzesinski closed the session by presenting a number of tools that are available to facilitate team science, such as the Team Science Toolkit and the Collaboration and Team Science Field Guide, both developed by the National Cancer Institute. Holly also pointed out a repository of literature about team science available through an open access Science of Team Science (SciTS) group on Mendeley. Additional resources that Holly highlighted include the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, the Individual Collaboration Readiness Tool, the Matrix Assessment Tool, and the Collaboration Success Wizard developed by UC Irvine. Holly recommended to learn to perform transdisciplinary, team-based translational research for research development professionals, which she described as a good resource for research development professionals. Additional resources include the Science of Team Science Listserv and a professional society for the Science of Team Science.