Sharpening Your Focus: In Science (and Football) – The Team, The Team, The Team!

February 25, 2020
icon of magnifying glass with puzzle pieceFormer University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler gave the now famous speech to his Wolverines, saying, “No man is more important than the team…”

And that same sentiment is being promoted widely in “Team Science," where scientists with diverse backgrounds and skill sets are encouraged to come together to leverage resources and cultivate ideas around a common research goal. While many research problems are conducive to a single investigator working independently in his or her own lab, solving some of today’s most complex diseases and health issues will require collaboration among researchers from varying scientific disciplines. Indeed, the positive impact of Team Science has already been credited with numerous successful scientific efforts, including the development of the HPV vaccine and the discovery of the causative agent for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Are you new to Team Science and want to join a team or form your own? Consider using the Michigan Research Experts database to find collaborators around campus. You can also check out Mcubed, a seed-funding program that stimulates innovative research and scholarship by distributing real-time seed funding of either $15,000 or $60,000 to multi-unit, faculty-led teams called “cubes." Investigators can create and search projects, search for collaborators, and obtain research funding for a cube.

If you are interested in learning more about Team Science, MICHR and the Office of Faculty Development have created videos about two important aspects of Team Science: mentoring and diversity. The website also provides a compilation of resources to introduce you to some of the skills and knowledge that are important for doing Team Science well.

Funding agencies, including the NIH and NSF, are recognizing the potential of Team Science to provide innovative solutions to multifactorial health and social problems. In response to this evolution toward interdisciplinary science, investments are being made both nationally and here at U of M to support collaboration among researchers.

Do you already have a team that is targeting submission of a large-scale proposal? At U-M, resources and internal funding mechanisms are available to support your team in large-scale grant proposal development:

  • The Medical School Office of Research has planning and preparation grants available of up to $10,000 to facilitate the submission of large, multi-investigator research proposals. Funding requests must be well-justified and related to facilitating the team and/or preparing the grant application.
  • The MICHR Accelerating Synergy Award is designed to support interdisciplinary research teams in pursuing external multi-component NIH large-scale grants (i.e., certain NIH U and P-series mechanisms). Each award will provide a tailored plan of MICHR team support and up to $100,000 in funding for one year. Partnerships across schools and colleges are required, and teams should be poised to submit a compelling external large-scale grant within 1-2 years of receiving an Accelerating Synergy Award.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how the Research Development Team at UMMS can help you learn more about or support you in scientific collaboration? We’d love to hear about it! Contact us at

Sharpening Your Focus: Tips on Grant Proposal Preparation is a series of tips published in Medical School Research News about proposal preparation. This article was written by Gina Stouffer, Grant Services & Analysis Research Development Specialist. View the full archive of articles here. Contact Gina at