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2015 News Archives

The Art of Collaboration

By: Sally Gore, MS, MSLIS, Research Evaluation Analyst, UMCCTS

One of the goals of the UMCCTS is to promote and facilitate collaboration across departments and disciplines, thus effectively reducing barriers between the basic and clinical sciences, and ultimately speeding the pathway between the discovery and implementation of new treatments, therapies, and the like that improve health.  One means of demonstrating collaboration is through co-authorship. The networks that develop between authors of publications give us a picture of how individuals are connected and where collaborations exist.

Social network analysis is the process of investigating social structures through the use of network and graph theories. It characterizes networked structures in terms of nodes (individual actors, people, or things within the network) and the ties or edges (relationships or interactions) that connect them.  (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network_analysis)

For this month’s column, let’s look at an example of a social network analysis that shows the co-authorship relationships between members of the Division of Health Informatics and Implementation Science in the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences (QHS). QHS is one of the newest departments at UMMS, with several of the senior faculty arriving on campus only about 6 years ago. The research that the Department does in developing innovative methodologies, epidemiological research, outcomes measurement science, and biostatics is integral to the nature of clinical translational research. By examining the co-authorship relationships of members of the Health Informatics group, we get a snapshot of how well these faculty members are connecting with other departments, other disciplines, and even other institutions. In short, we see how and where collaborations have developed and thus how well the UMCCTS goal of building them is being met.

To do this analysis, we first need to identify all of the publications authored by at least one of the Division’s faculty members for the period of time that s/he has been part of the Division, as well as all of the unique co-authors associated with these papers. In doing this, I found 221 publications authored by 716 different individuals. Using Sci2, a toolset developed at Indiana University, I was able to analyze the patterns and create a visualization showing the connections between the co-authors.

QHS Collaborations.png

One thing that we clearly see is that several faculty members are prominent hubs in the network, meaning they co-author many papers with many people. Drs. Houston and Allison are the most obvious examples here. We can also see that a number of branches grow from the periphery. At the base of each of these is a faculty member from the Division (counterclockwise from upper right, Drs. Cutrona, Hogan, Shimada, Mattocks, and Yu). Finally, we note that even hubs that are less connected to the clustered middle, e.g. Drs. Yu and Pelletier, are still linked, representing the reach of the collaborative network that the Division has formed over the past years.

Tools like Sci2, Scopus, SciVal, and ISI Web of Science provide another way, i.e. a visual demonstration, of the success of our programs and the impact of the translational science being done by the members of the UMCCTS.

Sci2 Team. (2009). Science of Science (Sci2) Tool. Indiana University and SciTech Strategies, https://sci2.cns.iu.edu

UMCCTS Receives $17.3 Million CTSA Award Renewal

To:  University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty, Staff, and Students

From:  Michael F. Collins, MD, Chancellor, UMMS
           Terrence R. Flotte, MD, Executive Deputy Chancellor, Provost and Dean, School of Medicine

Date:  August 17, 2015

Subject:  Clinical and Translational Science Award Renewal

In a time of tightly constrained federal resources, support for the clinical and translational science research infrastructure so critical to our future success is a key priority. We are thus very pleased to announce that the University of Massachusetts Medical School has received a highly competitive renewal of our Clinical and Translational Science Award.  The $17.3 million award has been funded by the NIH for an additional four years, under the leadership of its principal investigator, Katherine Luzuriaga, MD, director of the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science, vice provost for clinical and translational research and global health, and the inaugural recipient of the UMass Memorial Health Care Chair in Biomedical Research.

The initial CTSA award in 2010 coincided with our effort to maximize the impact of our research on the health of our communities and region. As part of an elite group of prominent research institutions working to move laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients; engage communities in clinical research; and train a new generation of researchers, we were able to establish a research and development infrastructure across the University: the five-campus UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS).  Going forward, we expect that this collaborative partnership across the commonwealth will have real impact on public and community health, informed by the contributions of faculty across the university.

The renewal of the CTSA is also an important validation of our strongly collaborative partnership with UMass Memorial, which has played a key role in supporting and nurturing clinical and translational sciences; with the renewal our important work in this area can continue on the trajectory outlined in our academic health sciences center strategic plan, “Vision 2020” and the 2014 UMass Life Sciences Strategic Plan.

Our investments in clinical and translational research infrastructure and outreach have had a substantial impact on our mission. In areas such as population health, RNA biology, gene therapy, diabetes, cardiovascular, bioinformatics and neurotherapeutics, we have become more integrated and interdisciplinary and our work in community engagement, cross-campus collaboration and faculty development has been enhanced by these investments. With this renewal, the NIH has recognized the success of these investments and challenged us to move forward aggressively.

This is an important validation of the work of so many individuals on this campus and across the UMass system, especially Dr. Luzuriaga, UMCCTS leadership committees and core directors; and most importantly, the faculty here at UMMS and across the system who have embraced the challenge to accelerate the translation of fundamental discoveries into the clinic; to create new networks of clinical research and health care delivery in central New England; and to foster and promote careers in clinical and translational research.

Read more in UMassMedNow

Nancy Byatt, DO receives national $2.5 million CDC grant

Date Posted: Thursday, August 06, 2015

Principal Investigator, Nancy Byatt, DO Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, and Obstetrics & Gynecology and co-investigators, Tiffany Moore Simas, MD, the Joy McCann Professor for Women in Medicine and Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pediatrics and Jeroan Allison, MD, Vice Chair and Professor of Quantitative Health Sciences, Professor of Medicine and Associate Provost for Health Disparities Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, have received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on the public health problems of depression during and after pregnancy.

Dr. Byatt is a 2013 UMCCTS Clinical Research Scholar (K12) awardee. Dr. Moore Simas was a recipient for the 2008 UMCCTS Pilot Project Program award and the 2012 UMass Life Sciences Moment Fund award. Dr. Allison is a 2013 UMCCTS Community Engagement and Research awardee.

Congratulations to Drs. Byatt, Moore Simas and Allison for this prestigious national award!

Click here for the complete article in the July 2015 UMassMedNow newsletter.