Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Staff Q&A: Katya Klyachko, PhD, Team Science Program Administrator, Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute

Katya Klyachko, PhD

Katya Klyachko is a program administrator for the Team Science Program in the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute. Klyachko helps faculty members assemble and launch teams by helping to identify possible collaborations, funding opportunities and providing training to maximize efficiency and effectiveness of a team.

Where are you originally from?

I came from Moscow, Russia, in 1993 to pursue my PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago.  

What is your educational background? 

I have bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Moscow State University, a PhD in medicinal chemistry from UIC and a master’s degree in clinical research regulation and administration from Northwestern.

Tell us about your professional background.

After completing my postdoctoral work at Northwestern, I worked for five years at a startup company on the development of antibiotics against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This was my first experience of something akin to team science. There were biologists, medicinal chemists, clinicians, business people and patent lawyers. It was a like a “Tower of Babel” situation. This experience made me realize how important communication is and how it is important to get everyone speaking the same language.   

How do you help scientists at the medical school?

The main purpose of the Team Science Program is to help scientists and future scientists understand collaborative research.  My hope is that this will help scientists become more experienced and adept at integrating their work with their peers. 

What is your favorite part of the job? 

As a life-long scientist, coming from a family of scientists, I can honestly say that I believe strongly in team science. I sincerely see the value of working in collaboration, but I also see that this is not something that scientists are necessarily trained in or something that just appears naturally, without good training involved. So, my favorite part of the job is seeing team science in action: watching professional scientists being trained and then being able to put the tools of team science to work for themselves.     

What exciting projects are you working on? 

We are updating, innovating and improving, the online learning tool for team science. This will enable researchers to get training in team science that they can apply in their own labs and on their projects. Another exciting project we are working on is a series of workshops for groups to enhance their team performance. The workshops are focused on strategic team mapping, team management, conflict resolution and collaboration tools. We are finishing the pilot run and anticipate that these workshops will be offered to the Northwestern community in the near future. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Between work and managing a highschooler and a preschooler, I don’t have that much spare time. But, I love art and painting, so whenever I have time, I am working on my art projects or taking classes at LillStreet art center. I also enjoy taking my kids to the Art Institute.

I love Chicago and honestly believe it’s the best city in U.S. I love showing my friends and family around the city and my dream is to become docent for the Chicago Architectural Foundation.