Translating research into health improvements

Translational research, also known as translational medicine or translational science, has been described and defined in many ways:

  • The conversion of scientific discovery into health improvement (Ref 1).
  • The translation of biomedical discovery across a spectrum from laboratory to clinical trials to clinical practice to population (Ref 2).
  • The multidirectional and multidisciplinary integration of basic research, patient-oriented research, and population-based research, with the long-term aim of improving the health of the public (Ref 3).

What most descriptions and definitions have in common are the concepts of translating basic scientific/medical research into more targeted clinical research and translating that clinical research into tests, treatments, and practices that improve human health. The objective of translational research is to bridge the gaps between often-distinct areas of expertise, making the transitions faster, less expensive, and more effective.

Many groups and organization have proposed models for translational research. These models typically reference transitions (T1, T2, etc.) that are sticking points in traditional medical research.  Models have been proposed with two, three, and even four transitions.

Another common thread in discussions of translational research is that it is different from traditional medical research. Translational research takes a broader, more multidisciplinary, and more collaborative approach. It involves not just biologists and chemists, but experts in medicine, pharmacology, finance, ethics, regulation, and legislation.