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Panel: Strategies for addressing common concerns in collaborative research and how to maximize existing resources?

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Graham Colditz MD, DrPH; Washington University School of Medicine

There are two main concerns regarding collaboration in DCIS research. The first is access to resources and the priorities of the data collector versus the collaborator. Data resources include questionnaires, blood-based samples, and tissue samples. Questionnaire data are combined easily. DNA samples can be shared, although blood is less readily shared as a result of its nonrenewable nature.

The second concern is the progression of academic careers, particularly that of junior faculty, following a major contribution to team science. Team science can be small-scale (e.g., R01 grants, program projects) or large-scale (e.g., SPORES, transdisciplinary Centers, consortia). Tenure and promotion generally require a set of activities that may be compromised by involvement in a large-scale collaboration; tenure committees need to reward instead of penalize investigators involved in collaborative efforts. Consortia-type activities already are a common feature of the epidemiology programs at the NCI, but training programs do not offer any recommendations on how to prepare for participation in these large-scale efforts. Additionally, promotion criteria do not yet reflect such activities. Junior investigators can be supported for promotion by educating academic leaders that major contributions through team science can be accomplished and by working to revise promotion rules to accommodate team science.

Larissa Nekhlyudov, MD, MPH; Harvard Medical School

Advantages of collaborative efforts include large sample sizes, a wide range of expertise, geographic diversity, enhanced productivity, and the potential for mentorship for junior investigators. Disadvantages include the cost, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations, differences in protocol, and the potential for the careers of junior investigators to not progress appropriately. However, solutions are available to overcome these difficulties. Implementing a standardized language across all sites, assigning multiple principal investigators, standardizing the IRB processes, and providing training for consortium leaders and junior personnel are possible solutions.

James Dignam, PhD; University of Chicago

Data sharing has been mandated among some cooperative groups. This mandated sharing creates a tremendous resource, but the groups mining the data have invested much effort and time collecting and managing the data sets. Sharing the data may allow outsiders use the data for their own analysis, which the group managing the data wishes to do but does not have time to do.

Last Modified: 18 Oct 2013