Structural Biochemistry/Bridging the gap between basic and clinical investigation
Clinical and basic research are two different worlds, but there needs to be a bridge connecting those (which creates translational research) to be able to open more doors with research opportunities by utilizing both types of research. There are difficulties of translational research, thus there needs to be a new generation of scientists who are willing to be educated and participate in translational research efforts, and new programs are being created to facilitate these efforts.
From the laboratory to the patient's bedside
There are many examples about how basic science has led to a discovery or a new drug even when it's initial motive was to run experiments only for the scientist's own interest. For example, pathologists were observing cholesterol in atheromatous plaques and studies in the '60s shows that serum cholesterol and coronary artery disease have an association with one another. Based on the knowledge of biochemical pathways of cholesterol synthesis and cholesterol transport, inhibitors of HMG-CoA reductase were created. Physicians and the public were educated on this drug and also clinical trials were implemented to prove the drug was effective and safe. In the end, the drugs were adopted into the public and reduced the mortality rates of coronary disease.
Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Consortium
CTSA was founded to help support and fund various translational research opportunities. There are six objectives: 1. There needs to be training of individuals across the translational spectrum; MDs need to be educated to become translation investigators and PhDs need to be educated i medical pathophysiology so if a basic finding has a direct translatability, they will know how to approach this finding. 2. There needs to be simplification of the translational process to become very efficient and accelerate the process, but while still keeping the research subject safe. 3. There needs to be the best types of technology in order to provide the best research for translational investigation. 4. There needs to be programs to nurture the careers of translational researchers. Thus, there are MD/PhD programs to bridge the divide of basic and clinical research and the success of these programs will allow tuition support so trainees are overwhelmed with huge loans. 5. There needs to be team mentoring for junior clinical scientists with programs such as the K12 awards. 6. There needs to be cataloguing research resources so tools will be available to a wide set of users.
Potential future challenges
One of the challenges translational research faces is that translational research is only successful if many people or teams are working together to create a certain outcome. Thus, it is hard to figure out who will be considered the first author for the published article, who gets the grant, the promotion, and more. Another is the problem of "pipeline" findings. Translational research hones down on a certain topic or research in order to find a drug or discovery, but basic research, the topics are very broad. Also, many discoveries or drugs were found out by accident by basic researchers. How will basic research turn out if more money and grants are being handed to translational efforts? Lastly, it is unknown how pharmaceutical companies would react to the boom of rich data and information because of translational efforts. It is implied that pharmaceutical companies will then mass produce drugs (produce millions) instead of producing thousands.
McClain, Donald A. "Bridging the gap between basic and clinical investigation" Trends in Biochemical Sciences 35.4 (2010) 187-188. Academic Search Complete. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.