The New Rosetta Stone for Translational Research

When scientists and clinical investigators talk about translational research, it seems things get lost in translation.

When scientists and clinical investigators talk about translational research, it seems things get lost in translation. Here's what one group posited:

“Translational research fosters the multidirectional integration of basic research, patient-oriented research, and population-based research, with the long-term aim of improving the health of the public. T1 research expedites the movement between basic research and patient-oriented research that leads to new or improved scientific understanding or standards of care. T2 research facilitates the movement between patient-oriented research and population-based research that leads to better patient outcomes, the implementation of best practices, and improved health status in communities. T3 research promotes interaction between laboratory-based research and population-based research to stimulate a robust scientific understanding of human health and disease.”

Understand? I didn't think so. Maybe this will help: Translational research is mostly about getting ideas, inventions, and discoveries from bench to bedside to barrios, ie, basic research findings translated into clinical applications after human subjects research and clinical trials and then expanding applications to populations at risk.

After many years of resistance, translational researchers and the organizations that fund them are taking it one step further and seeing the board room as the next step in the translation pathway. Drum roll please... translational entrepreneurship.

The movement is evident in several ways:

1. Philanthropreneurs are supporting the efforts but with the quid pro quo that there be short-term, measurable impact.

2. Bioentrepreneurship training programs are engaging and collaborating with Clinical Translational Research Institutes.

3. NSF and NIH are funding programs, like iCorps Grants and the BEST program, to accelerate commercial applications of biomedical translational research.

4. Technology transfer offices are re-inventing themselves and embracing innovation.

5. Innovative funding mechanisms are fueling new program development with an emphasis on academic-industry outreach.

The new translational research paradigm is bench to bedside to barrio to boardroom. At this point we are still talking with nouns, verbs in the present tense, and getting by with tourist skills. It won't take long, though, before you hear some past participles and the future tense and speakers and listeners actually understand each other.