HuBMAP Consortium Strategy

The goal of the Consortium is to enhance the collaborations and knowledge exchange among members as well as between HuBMAP and the wider research community. To achieve this goal, we believe it is important to foster a climate of innovation and excitement based on the HuBMAP mission. In a project of this nature, particularly when developing data and information systems, the tendency is to look to technology as the means to the project end. While technology clearly plays a prominent part in a project’s success, effective team dynamics – and the sociological aspects of those interactions – cannot be ignored. A 2015 NRC report on team science highlighted elements required for successful collaborative research (i.e., aligned vision, skill building, training, communications, and knowledge sharing). Related research shows that a ‘middle-out’ consortium, of the type envisaged for this project, that are neither wholly top-down nor bottom-up, are best poised to forge a shared vision to accommodate diverse changing interests, multiply impacts, and co-evolve.

During the set-up phase of the Consortium, we seek to enhance the aligned vision of the participants through invitation of provocateurs from other fields, e.g., geospatial entrepreneurs whose mappings and data integration continues to develop Google Earth. We are enhancing cross-fertilization within the Consortium through pilot projects (connecting personnel who don’t have previous connections, but should), face-to-face meetings, and micro-labs (that may emerge because of new opportunities or recognized bottlenecks). The Consortium is comprised of diverse backgrounds, engaged with different scientific meetings and communities, and are well-suited to the global research community required to build the framework, datasets, and tools for mapping the human body.

Team dynamics inevitably evolve and develop emergent properties that change over time. We are proactively following best practices of team science (e.g., enabling changes in membership over time as group goals or results change) to create effective and agile teams. Additionally, we use evidence-based interventions to improve team processes. We meet annually for identifying and addressing any bottlenecks, enabling the group to discover creative solutions to understanding the circumstances that hinder or enhance teamwork.

We recognize that good communication is necessary for any team to operate effectively, especially a consortium of this scope. We are transparent across all teams and levels, and we emphasize a shared understanding of goals and team member roles, which have been shown to be integral to the effectiveness of science teams. Further, we maintain a daily focus on maintenance and outreach by supporting the internal communications infrastructure (e.g., website, calendar, mail-lists, direct-messaging, digital forums, virtual meeting rooms, Kanban-driven project management and milestone sharing, document- and code- share and version management, assay protocols, engagement policies, and knowledge base).

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