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What is Translational Research?

The NIH Common Fund defines Translational Research as the following:

"To improve human health, scientific discoveries must be translated into practical applications. Such discoveries typically begin at “the bench” with basic research in which scientists study disease at a molecular or cellular level then progress to the clinical level, or the patient's “bedside.”

Diagram of the clinical and translational research processScientists are increasingly aware that this bench-to-bedside approach to translational research is really a two-way street. Basic scientists provide clinicians with new tools for use in patients and for assessment of their impact, and clinical researchers make novel observations about the nature and progression of disease that often stimulate basic investigations.

Translational research has proven to be a powerful process that drives the clinical research engine. However, a stronger research infrastructure could strengthen and accelerate this critical part of the clinical research enterprise. The NIH Roadmap attempts to catalyze translational research in various ways."

The levels of translational research are often represented by the symbols T1 through T4.

T1 represents the translation of a discovery in the basic sciences (biochemistry, for example) into a clinical application (a new drug).

T2 represents the translation from a clinical application (a new drug) into accepted practice or clinical guideline by physicians.

T3 represents the translation of an accepted practice for clinicians into better health for a community or population.

T4 represents the translation of a practice for the better health of a population into better health on a global scale.

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Email: ccts@utah.edu

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