Building and Sustaining Professional Relationships Across Disciplines: Interdisciplinary Research Teams and Collaboration

By David Oliver and Paul Tatum III.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The need to breakdown academic silos in universities that produce research in isolation from the richness of interdisciplinary discourse and collaboration is ubiquitous. The Interdisciplinary Center on Aging at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) brings together health care providers, researchers and educators who are focused on the needs of the rapidly growing older adult population. Formally initiated three years ago, the Center currently includes more than 100 faculty members (Center Fellows) representing six schools, five colleges, and 36 different departments at the University of Missouri. In an effort to build and sustain lasting professional and collaborative relationships across disciplines, we encourage and support interdisciplinary research teams that bring together senior and junior faculty as equal learners as they build exciting and fundable research agendas. Currently there are 48 different interdisciplinary research teams that account for $53 million in aging-related research on the University of Missouri campus. To sustain professional relationships and collaboration, the following has been initiated: 1) a monthly research seminar featuring the work of interdisciplinary research teams, 2) the development of two interdisciplinary courses focusing on physical and cognitive function in aging, 3) and a small grants program to promote interdisciplinary scholarship and dissemination involving junior faculty and senior mentors. Funding from the RAND Corporation and the John A. Hartford Foundation has provided funding over the last two years to expand these programs and professional relationships focusing them on interdisciplinary intervention geriatric healthcare research. This support along with collaborative work with the School of Medicine’s Geriatric Programs Initiative funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation has provided a solid foundation for this sustained initiative in aging at the University of Missouri.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary Research, Academic Centers on Aging, Aging-Related Research, Interdisciplinary Research Teams, Interdisciplinary Collaboration

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.173-184. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.192MB).

Dr. David Oliver

Research Professor, Family and Community Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA

David B. Oliver, PhD (in sociology with a specialization in gerontology) has focused his career on gerontological education, in general, and on the needs of the frail elderly, in particular. He has established interdisciplinary degree and related programs at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas; at the Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri; and at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. His career spans the fields of sociology, aging, healthcare, and religion. His book, co-authored with Sally Tureman, The Human Factor in Long Term Care, articles, and national and international presentations have made him a popular speaker at many aging-related conferences. He is also a licensed nursing home administrator and is active in aging-related community organizations and agencies. While his home department is Family and Community Medicine, he is the Assistant Director of the University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Center on Aging that includes 6 schools, 5 colleges, and 36 different disciplines.

Paul Tatum III

Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA

Paul Tatum is a family physician and geriatrician specializing in the work of interdisciplinary teams, hospice, and palliative medicine. His medical education was completed at the University of Texas and residency at the University of Missouri.


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