Medical researchers have called for new forms of translational science that can solve complex medical problems. Mainstream science has made complementary calls for heterogeneous teams of collaborators who conduct transdisciplinary research so as to solve complex social problems. Is transdisciplinary translational science what the medical community needs? What challenges must the medical community overcome to successfully implement this new form of translational science? This article makes several contributions. First, it clarifies the concept of transdisciplinary research and distinguishes it from other forms of collaboration. Second, it presents an example of a complex medical problem and a concrete effort to solve it through transdisciplinary collaboration: for example, the problem of preterm birth and the March of Dimes effort to form a transdisciplinary research center that synthesizes knowledge on it. The presentation of this example grounds discussion on new medical research models and reveals potential means by which they can be judged and evaluated. Third, this article identifies the challenges to forming transdisciplines and the practices that overcome them. Departments, universities and disciplines tend to form intellectual silos and adopt reductionist approaches. Forming a more integrated (or 'constructionist'), problem-based science reflective of transdisciplinary research requires the adoption of novel practices to overcome these obstacles.