TIRI Coursework

All TIRI trainees are required to take: “Building Interdisciplinary Research Models,” a 2-credit course offered through the School of Nursing (N9260), Mailman School of Public Health (89260), or Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (G9260); a Supervised Field Experience in Interdisciplinary Research in Infection Prevention, which may be taken for credit; and “Responsible Conduct of Research and Related Policy Issues” (G4010).  Trainees also enroll in infectious disease courses offered across the University, as determined by their interests and previous experiences, in consultation with their faculty mentors and the TIRI Directors. 

TIRI Required Research Activities

As part of their training, all TIRI trainees will:

  • Complete the CUMC on-line Good Clinical Practices & HIPAA courses.
  • Regularly attend one Seminar Series outside of their discipline.
  • Attend Fogarty/CIDER Seminar Series and CIDER Fellows meetings.
  • Attend at least one IRB meeting.  View the meeting schedule and roster on the IRB homepage and obtain permission from the appropriate IRB chair prior to attending. 
  • Regularly attend monthly CIRI Seminars and lead at least one.
  • Attend at least one national meeting o f relevance to his/her research (funded by TIRI). 
  • Produce at least one publishable manuscript from CIRI projects or coursework.

Building Interdisciplinary Research Models

Required coursework includes "Building Interdisciplinary Research Models" (offered each Fall semester), as well as a "Supervised Field Experience" and several other research courses and activities.

Building Interdisciplinary Research Models

  • Course Number: Nursing N9260 or MSPHBIST 89260 or GSAS G9260, "Building Interdisciplinary Research Models"
  • Description: Interdisciplinary research is an approach to advancing scientific knowledge requiring mastery of specific competencies. This seminar will introduce the students to competencies in interdisciplinary research through a combination of readings and lectures in each necessary aspect, chosen from fields essential to successful interdisciplinary research. This course will assist learners to understand why and how different professional disciplines, each representing a body of scientific knowledge, must work together to generate and disseminate knowledge. Learners will develop a set of skills specific to be an effective member and leader of an interdisciplinary research team, including working with different value and knowledge sets across disciplines, running effective meetings, managing conflict, giving and receiving feedback, and group decision making techniques. Using the small group seminar approach and case studies, learners will practice individual and group communication, reflective and self-assessment techniques, and engage in experiential learning activities regarding effective teamwork in interdisciplinary research teams. Techniques to increase group creativity and frame new insights will be discussed.
  • Credits: 2
  • Objectives: At the completion of this seminar the student will be able to:
    • Demonstrate a working knowledge and beginning mastery of research competencies shown to be important for successful interdisciplinary collaborations. These include:
      • Engage in discussion with scholars from other disciplines to gain their perspectives on research problems of relevance to your own discipline
      • Translate research from you disciplinary area into language meaningful to an interdisciplinary team
      • Articulate theories of disciplines other than your own through reading journals outside of your own discipline and discussion of issues with members of related disciplines
      • Collaborate respectfully, equitably and regularly with colleagues from other disciplines to develop sustainable interdisciplinary research teams
    • Apply theories and methods of multiple disciplines in developing integrated theoretical and research frameworks
    • Give and receive constructive feedback that will foster efficient and effective information exchange, strong working relationships and internal commitment among team members
    • Modify his or her own work and/or research agenda as a result of interactions with colleagues from fields other than his or her own
  • Methodology
    • The course will include didactic content describing the interdisciplinary research process, competencies essential to the conduct of interdisciplinary research, and findings from studies regarding barriers and facilitators of interdisciplinary research. A ‘B&B (Breaking the Barriers) Series’ of presentations and interviews by interdisciplinary researchers will be interspersed with the didactic content. Each researcher will provide an overview of an interdisciplinary project, discuss how their team was selected and why, and describe barriers and facilitators to the success of their work. These presentations will be illustrative of the challenges encountered in specific aspects of interdisciplinary scholarship, and will include one or more research critiques and structured interviews presented by students as assigned.
  • Evaluation
    • Class participation. Students must be prepared for discussion with cogent and facilitative questions and rely on evidence from the literature to support their arguments rather than first-person testimonials and anecdotes (20%).
    • Interdisciplinary Research Team Experience. At the beginning of the course, identify an interdisciplinary team with which you can interact throughout the semester. It may be one with which you are already involved, or you may seek a new one.
      • With their explicit agreement (i.e., inform them that you are fulfilling a course assignment), attend their meetings and become involved as appropriate.
      • Read: Stokols D, Misra S, Moser RP, Hall KL, Taylor BK. The ecology of team science. Am J Prev Med 2008;35 (2S): S96-S116
      • Assess the functioning of the team using the six factors discussed on pp S106-S111: intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational/institutional, guides. To gather your data, you may wish to interview team 'leaders' or members of the team.
      • Write a scholarly critique of the team functioning.
        • Include a short introduction which describes the team: purpose of the team, number of members, disciplines involved, duration of the team's existence.
        • Assess the team's strengths and weaknesses based on the six elements above.
        • Identify specific attributes of the team that have enhanced its success and/or hindered its progress. Make recommendations for improving the interdisciplinary nature of the team (30%).
        • Written paper should be a maximum of 8-10 pages. In addition, you will present your findings in class.
    • Final Paper: Interdisciplinary Approaches to a Research Problem. See instructions (30%)
    • Homework assignments, including serving as discussion leader for one of the required readings for the course (20%)
  • Course Schedule
Sessions Topics Assignments
1 Why interdisciplinary research?
  • Complete Self-Assessment
  • Read Chapters 1 and 2, NAS text
  • Brown T. Design thinking. Harvard Bus Rev June 2008;84-92.
  • Rhoten D. Interdisciplinary research: Trend or transition. Items and Issues 2004;5(2-1):6-11.
  • Rhoten D, Parker A. Risks and reward of an interdisciplinary research path. Science 2004;306:2046.
2 B&B (Breaking the Barriers)
Session 1: Debate, pros and cons of interdisciplinary research (Lowy, Kessin)
  • Stokols D, Hall KL, Taylor BK, Moser RP. The science of team science. Am J Prev Med 2008;35(2S):S77-S89.
  • Butler D. Crossing the valley of death. Nature 2008;453:840-842.
  • Lepford H. The full cycle. Nature 2008;453:843-845.

Definitions of interdisciplinary research

  • Aboelela SW, Larson E, Bakken S, Carrasquillo O, Formicola A, Glied SA, Haas J, Gebbie KM. Defining interdisciplinary research: Conclusions from a criticial review of the literature. Health Serv Res 2007;42:329-346.
  • Who'd want to work in a team? Nature 2003;424(6944):1.
  • Mitchell PH. What's in a name? Multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary. J Prof Nursing 2005;21(6):332-334.
  • Complete Survey: Defining Interdisciplinary Research
4 B&B Session 2: Various models of interdisciplinary research (Bakken)

Interdisciplinary research competencies

  • Gebbie KM, Meier BM, Bakken S, Carrasquillo O, Formicola A, Aboelela SW, Glied S, Larson E. Training for interdisciplinary health research: Defining the required competencies. J Allied Health 2008;37:65-70.
  • Rogers EM. Lessons for guidelines from the diffusion of innovations. Jt Comm Jl Qual Improv 1995;21:324-328.
  • Stokols D. Toward a science of transdisciplinary action research. Am J Commun Psychol 2006;38:63-77.
5 B&B Session 3: How to select competencies needed for a specific project (Gebbie)
  • Larson EL, Saiman L, Haas J, Neumann A, Lowy FD, Fatato B, Bakken S. Perspectives on antimicrobial resistance: Establishing an interdisciplinary research approach. Am J Infect Contr 2005;33:410-418.
6 Institutional barriers and facilitators of interdisciplinary scholarship
  • Read Chapter 5, NAS text
  • Garvin DA. Building a learning organization. Harvard Bus Rev 1993;71(4):78-91.
7 B&B Session 4: Institutional barriers to interdisciplinary research and how to minimize them (Glied)
  • Glied S, Bakken S, Formicola A, Gebbie K, Larson EL. Institutional challenges of interdisciplinary research centers. J Res Admin 2007;38:28-36.
8 B&B Session 5: Individual barriers and facilitators of interdisciplinary research
  • Stokols D, Misra S, Moser RP, Hall KL, Taylor BK. The ecology of team science. Am J Prev Med 2008;35(2S):S96-S115.
9 Developments in the science of team science
  • Fiore SM. Interdisciplinarity as teamwork: How the science of teams can inform team science. Small Group Res 2008;39:251-277.
  • Wuchty S, Jones BF, Uzzi B. The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science 2007;316:1036-1039.
  • Hall KL, Feng AX, Moser RP, Stokols D, Taylor BK. Moving the science of team science forward: Collaboration and creativity. Am J Prev Med 2008;35(2S):S243-S249.

Predictors of success

B&B Session 6: Exemplar of a successful interdisciplinary research project

  • Larson EL. Minimizing disincentives for collaborative research. Nurs Outlook 2003;51:267-271.
  • Gray B. Enhancing transdisciplinary research through collaborative leadership. Am J Prev Med 2008;35(2S):S124-S132.

Assessing effectiveness of interdisciplinary research teams

B&B Session 7: Evaluation techniques (Weng, Merrill)

  • Read Chapter 8, NAS text
  • Stokols D, Harvey R, Gress J, Fuqua J, Phillips K. In vivo studies of transdisciplinary scientific collaboration. Lessons learned and implications for active living research. Am J Prev Med 2005;28(2S2):202-213.
  • Aboelela SW, Merrill JA, Carley KM, Larson EL. Social network analysis to evaluate an interdisciplinary research center. J Res Admin 2007;38:61-75.
12 Research teams of the future (Byrne re: Sun study)
  • Read Chapters 9 and 10, NAS text
  • Kessel F, Rosenfield PL. Toward transdisciplinary research: Historical and contemporary perspectives. Am J Prev Med 2008;35(2S)S225-234.
  • Complete final self-assessment
  • Final Paper: Interdisciplinary Approaches to A Research Problem

The purpose of this paper is to identify an important health or health care problem that warrants research, assess gaps in what is currently known, and articulate how a research study might be designed to address the problem, first from individual disciplinary points of view and then with an interdisciplinary approach.

Sections of Paper Approximate Length Grading
1. Describe an important health or health care problem, including, for example, its prevalence, severity, costs, impact on society, etc. This should be a problem of interest to you. Generally 1-2 paragraphs, but a maximum of 1-2 pages 10 points
2. Identify gaps in our current understanding of this problem, i.e., what is not known that would help to address or add important information needed to resolve the problem. Generally 1-2 paragraphs, but a maximum of 1 page 10 points
3. From your specific discipline, develop at least one research aim or question to address this problem. Describe the theoretical underpinnings associated with this aim (i.e., what is your disciplinary perspective). A few paragraphs 10 points
4. Now, identify two other disciplines and develop at least one additional research aim or question to address this problem from each of these disciplinary perspectives. Again, describe the theoretical underpinnings associated with this aim (i.e., what are the respective disciplinary perspectives). A few paragraphs 15 points
5. Develop a research aim or question which might emanate from an interdisciplinary perspective. A few paragraphs 15 points
6. As principal investigator of this study, describe the research team that you assemble, your rationale for these selections, and what role each member would play. A few paragraphs, maximum of 1-2 pages 20 points
7. Finally, describe potential challenges that might emerge during your project and steps you would take to maximize the potential for a successful interdisciplinary project. 1-2 pages 20 points


Supervised Field Experience in Interdisciplinary Research in Infection Prevention

Credits:  May be taken for credits (2)

Course Directors:  Elaine Larson and Lisa Saiman

Description: An essential component of this pre- and postdoctoral fellowship is a field experience in which each fellow is exposed to aspects of research regarding infection prevention with which they have not been previously familiar, or using research methods with which they have not developed skill.  Therefore, the experience will be scheduled during the first year of the fellowship to assist fellows to further identify the interdisciplinary aspects of their research.  The selection of the center or mentors will be based on the trainee’s proposed research interests and might include: working with a new population or in a setting in which the fellow has no previous experience (e.g. a laboratory scientist working in the community, health department or a healthcare setting; a social scientist working in a laboratory;  a clinician using mathematical modeling or social networking analyses to examine transmission dynamics or working with an economist or health policy mentor to assess the potential systems effects or policy implications of his/her research).

Objectives: At the completion of this experience, the trainee will draft a publishable manuscript related to the field experience, having completed the following:
1.  Expand his/her research aims to include an interdisciplinary perspective.
2.  Identify collaborators/mentors for his/her research project.
3.  Participate in the ongoing interdisciplinary research of the assigned mentor(s).
4.  Complete a specific interdisciplinary project. 

Evaluation:   Active participation in field experience, 40%; Publishable manuscript, 60%

Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (Mailman School of Public Health - OPTIONAL)

Credits:  3

Course Director:  Stephen Morse

Course Description: Infectious disease epidemiology monitors the occurrence of infectious diseases and develops strategies for preventing and controlling disease. It requires the use of traditional epidemiologic methods as well as methods that cannot be applied to non-infectious diseases, such as mathematical modeling. In addition to knowing epidemiologic methods, infectious disease epidemiologists need to be familiar with the clinical and biological features of important infectious diseases as well as laboratory techniques for the identification and quantification of infectious agents. This course is designed to provide an introduction to infectious disease epidemiology. It will focus on the tools and methods used in identifying, preventing, and controlling infectious diseases to improve public health. Case studies based on the literature and the work of faculty members will be used to illustrate the real-world application of these tools and methods to address public health problems.

Objectives: By the end of the course, the student should understand what constitutes an emerging infection, appreciate why and how infections emerge, understand what approaches are currently available to track, predict, and respond to emerging infections, recognize the strengths and limitations of current capabilities for surveillance and control, and be able to identify similarities and differences between natural outbreaks of disease and biowarfare/bioterrorism. Lectures, presentations by invited speakers, and discussions.

Evaluation: Midterm and final exam or paper. Papers (unit essays) and discussion.

Course Title: Topics in Emerging Infectious Diseases (Mailman School of Public Health - OPTIONAL)

Credits:  3 credits

Course Description: Examines the concept of emerging infectious diseases and our current understanding of emergence. Methods of identifying and studying emerging pathogens, factors responsible for disease emergence, and methods of surveillance and intervention, and impacts of emerging infections are discussed, using case studies and examples of pathogens as appropriate. are considered. As problems closely related to the natural examples of emerging infectious diseases, public health aspects of biowarfare and bioterrorism are also discussed.

Objectives: By the end of the course, the student should understand what constitutes an emerging infection, appreciate why and how infections emerge, understand what approaches are currently available to track, predict, and respond to emerging infections, recognize the strengths and limitations of current capabilities for surveillance and control, and be able to identify similarities and differences between natural outbreaks of disease and biowarfare/bioterrorism. Lectures, presentations by invited speakers, and discussions.

Evaluation:  Midterm and final exam or paper. Papers (unit essays) and discussion.


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