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The investigation of complex factors underpinning disparities necessitates the collaborative expertise of diverse disciplines and partners in practice and policy domains. Research collaborations play a critical role in informing practice, programmes and policies that reduce health disparities and promote the wellbeing of vulnerable populations. In this paperwe present interdisciplinary initiatives in our research programme that engages academics from different disciplines, community and policy partners and vulnerable people under study. Diverse perspectives foster comprehensive, multidimensional analysis of the support and health needs of vulnerable groups, and the multisite research strategies that we use enable methodological diversity, expeditious data collection and larger sample sizes. The purposeof the paper is to present our positive experiences with this collaborative model. We focus on contributionsand challenges pertaining to leadership, communication, co-ordination, knowledge translation and mentorship.