What Is Translational Research?
The aim of translational research is to apply knowledge gained from the basic sciences to clinical and community health-care settings. This concept is often described as "bench-to-bedside" and "bedside-to-community" research. Frequently, it involves a novel approach to an established health care problem.
As the concept of translational health research has evolved with practice and time, four phases of translation, or "T-phases," have been identified. The following is the four-phase model developed by Khoury et al (2007):
- T1 (Phase I and II Clinical Trials) - Integrate a basic scientific discovery into a candidate health-care application
- T2 (Phase III Clinical Trials) - Assess the value of the application for health-care practice and develop evidence-based guidelines for using the application
- T3 (Phase IV Clincal Trials) - Move evidence-based guidelines into health-care practice through delivery, dissemination, and diffusion research
- T4 (Outcomes Research) - Evaluate the real-world health outcomes of the population health practice in a larger population
As depicted in the graphic below, the four phases of translational research do not necessarily proceed in a linear fashion. They are bidirectional, overlap, and provide feedback loops that allow integration of new knowledge in no particular order.
For further information and additional explanations of translational research, these journal articles may be helpful:
- Drolet BC, Lorenzi NM. Translational research: understanding the continuum from bench to bedside. Transl Res. 2011;157:1-5.
- Dougherty D, Conway PH. The “3T’s” road map to transform US healthcare: the “how” of high-quality care. JAMA. 2008;299:2319-2321.
- Khoury MJ, Gwinn M, Yoon PW, Dowling N, Moore CA, Bradley L. The continuum of translation research in genomic medicine: how can we accelerate the appropriate integration of human genome discoveries into health care and disease prevention? Genet Med. 2007;9:665-674.
- Zerhouni EA. Translational and clinical science—time for a new vision. N Engl J Med. 2005;353:1621-1623.
- Zerhouni E. The NIH roadmap. Science. 2003;302:63-64,72.