Team science and the physician–scientist in the age of grand health challenges

Clifford J. Steer, Peter R. Jackson, Hortencia Hornbeak, Catherine K. McKay, P. Sriramarao, Michael P. Murtaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Despite remarkable advances in medical research, clinicians face daunting challenges from new diseases, variations in patient responses to interventions, and increasing numbers of people with chronic health problems. The gap between biomedical research and unmet clinical needs can be addressed by highly talented interdisciplinary investigators focused on translational bench-to-bedside medicine. The training of talented physician–scientists comfortable with forming and participating in multidisciplinary teams that address complex health problems is a top national priority. Challenges, methods, and experiences associated with physician–scientist training and team building were explored at a workshop held at the Second International Conference on One Medicine One Science (iCOMOS 2016), April 24–27, 2016, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A broad range of scientists, regulatory authorities, and health care experts determined that critical investments in interdisciplinary training are essential for the future of medicine and healthcare delivery. Physician–scientists trained in a broad, nonlinear, cross-disciplinary manner are and will be essential members of science teams in the new age of grand health challenges and the birth of precision medicine. Team science approaches have accomplished biomedical breakthroughs once considered impossible, and dedicated physician– scientists have been critical to these achievements. Together, they translate into the pillars of academic growth and success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Navigating the application process successfully is difficult, and the NIH provides training through electronic resources, presentations by staff, and regional meetings in order to improve applicants’ success rates. Funding opportunities suitable for physician–scientists include institutional training grants (T32 and T35), individual fellowships (F30– F31), Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Awards (K08), Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Awards (K23), and NIH Pathway to Independence Awards, which support transition from a mentored postdoctoral fellowship to an independent faculty position. These award mechanisms are shown in Figure 1.

Funding Information:
Nontraditional funding opportunities for physician–scientists are also emerging. Hortencia Hornbeak, associate director for scientific review and policy at the NIAID, NIH, discussed the changing research funding landscape that emphasizes awards to support creative, flexible, productive people rather than specific projects; funds from multiple external sources; and multidisciplinary team science. Specific award examples include NIH Pioneer Awards and Outstanding Investigator Awards, as well as similar instruments from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Wellcome Trust.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 New York Academy of Sciences.


  • Academic medicine
  • Health policy
  • Health research
  • One health


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