The Science of Team Science: Eighth Annual DCEG Fellows' Training Symposium
by Lydia Louis, M.P.H., and Baiyu Yang, Ph.D.
In March, more than 60 DCEG fellows participated in the eighth annual Fellows' Training Symposium, titled “The Science of Team Science.” The event was sponsored by DCEG’s Office of Education (OE) and organized by a DCEG fellows’ planning committee, including co-chairs Lydia Louis, M.P.H., and Baiyu Yang, Ph.D., and committee members Scott Kelly, Ph.D., Payal Khincha, M.B.B.S., and Tracy Layne, Ph.D., M.P.H. The committee was supported by Jackie Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of OE, Kris Kiser, M.H.A., M.S., and Diane Wigfield.
Montserrat García-Closas, M.D., Dr.P.H., Deputy Director of DCEG, began the symposium with an overview of the key elements of successful team science. Tracing her own career across multiple countries, Dr. García-Closas described how her scientific interests developed unexpectedly, through leveraging both professional and personal opportunities. In addition, she described ongoing multidisciplinary and trans-institutional research efforts in DCEG, pointing out the unprecedented opportunities available to current fellows.
Guest speakers Dr. Elizabeth Platz, and Dr. John Groopman, both professors at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, shared their experiences with team science. During her talk “Becoming and being a team science epidemiologist,” Dr. Platz described how team science can be a powerful approach for addressing important research questions with significant impact. She highlighted the importance of having good mentors early in one’s career and the necessity of junior investigators to proactively seek fruitful professional relationships.
Dr. Groopman presented “When there is no eye in team, can you succeed?” and provided examples of successful team science from his international collaborations studying liver cancer in rural China. He detailed how his active networking with transdisciplinary collaborators has led to many rewarding research experiences. He also cautioned that a fear of failure should not prevent young investigators from taking scientific risks that may have the potential to yield great rewards, and that a professional path planned too carefully may miss serendipitous, career-defining moments.
Two postdoctoral fellows presented their work. Fangyi Gu, M.Med., Sc.D., spoke on “Genes in the circadian rhythm pathway and five cancer sites,” and Jiyeon Choi, Ph.D., discussed “A common intronic variant of PARP1 confers melanoma risk and mediates melanocyte growth and senescence escape via regulation of MITF.” Their talks were selected through a competitive review of submitted abstracts. In addition, more than 25 fellows presented posters on their research.
The symposium concluded with an interactive round-robin style networking session. More than 20 DCEG alumni led discussions on one of eight career categories: NIH-intramural, NIH-extramural, non-NIH federal agencies, academia, industry, non-profit organizations, and policy. The roundtable allowed DCEG fellows to learn about multiple career paths in small groups. The day ended with brief comments from the alumni who offered personalized career advice to current fellows.
“The fellows continued to talk about the event for weeks afterward,” said Dr. Lavigne. “Several came to me to discuss job opportunities they learned about while networking with the alumni. We hope to make the alumni networking roundtable session a new tradition for this event.”