Opening doors to basic-clinical collaboration and translational research will improve researchers’ performance
The translation of hypothesis-driven research laboratory findings about basic disease mechanisms into clinically useful tests or therapies, particularly in pediatric diseases, is time-consuming, expensive, and not well supported by traditional research grant mechanisms. Accordingly, the development of new drugs and clinical assays has typically been largely the domain of the pharmaceutical industry. Aside from partnering with for-profit companies, academic health centers are challenged to find ways to actively engage in biomedical research to bridge the gap between basic and clinical research. The Translational Research Initiative (TRI) at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center was launched in 2001 with the mission to build an institutional infrastructure for promoting and facilitating the clinical implementation of investigator-initiated basic research. The TRI's goals are to provide grant support for proposals that are translational in nature and that address serious diagnostic or therapeutic deficiencies in pediatric illnesses; to create and support specialized research cores and a specialized office that provides support for research protocol development and regulatory affairs; and to organize educational opportunities focused on bridging communication between basic and clinical scientists and encouraging multidisciplinary interactions. The authors describe the program structure and provide an interim outcome report as measured by extramural funding obtained, Investigational New Drug applications filed, manuscripts published, clinical trials launched, and educational initiatives created. The broad success of this program suggests that it might serve as a model for other academic health centers in promoting and conducting translational research.