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Author Notes:

Timothy H. CIesielski, Public Health Program, Regis College, 235 Wellesley Street, Weston, MA 02493, email: timothyhciesielski@gmail.com.

TC proposed the idea of writing an article providing tangible examples of innovative methods in epidemiology.

The general format of the piece was determined in a conference call with all authors.

TC drafted the manuscript and all authors provided key feedback and input (RH, MA, CM, SW).

SW is the senior author and provided substantial editorial input.

The funders had no involvement in the writing of the manuscript or the decision to submit it for publication.

All authors have read the journal’s policy on conflict of interest disclosure, and have read the journal’s authorship agreement.

Competing interests: None Declared.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by the National institute of Mental Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH-NIMH R01MH094609; UO1ES019457); the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH-NIEHS R01ES022223); March of Dimes Ohio Collaborative for the Prevention of Preterm Birth, the National Institutes of Health (NIH P20 GM103534), and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (K07 CA172294) to [MCA].


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Medicine, General & Internal
  • Medicine, Research & Experimental
  • General & Internal Medicine
  • Research & Experimental Medicine

Transdisciplinary Approaches Enhance the Production of Translational Knowledge


Journal Title:

Translational Research in Anatomy


Volume 182


, Pages 123-134

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


The primary goal of translational research is to generate and apply knowledge that can improve human health. Although research conducted within the confines of a single discipline has helped us to achieve this goal in many settings, this unidisciplinary approach may not be optimal when disease causation is complex and health decisions are pressing. To address these issues, we suggest that transdisciplinary approaches can facilitate the progress of translational research, and we review publications that demonstrate what these approaches can look like. These examples serve to (1) demonstrate why transdisciplinary research is useful, and (2) stimulate a conversation about how it can be further promoted. While we note that open-minded communication is a prerequisite for germinating any transdisciplinary work and that epidemiologists can play a key role in promoting it, we do not propose a rigid protocol for conducting transdisciplinary research, as one really does not exist. These achievements were developed in settings where typical disciplinary and institutional barriers were surmountable, but they were not accomplished with a single predetermined plan. The benefits of cross-disciplinary communication are hard to predict a priori and a detailed research protocol or process may impede the realization of novel and important insights. Overall, these examples demonstrate that enhanced cross-disciplinary information exchange can serve as a starting point that helps researchers frame better questions, integrate more relevant evidence, and advance translational knowledge more effectively. Specifically, we discuss examples where transdisciplinary approaches are helping us to better explore, assess, and intervene to improve human health.

Copyright information:

© 2016 The Authors

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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