What is Translational Medicine?
Ever since Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., then Director of the National Institutes of Health, published his seminal article, “Translational and Clinical Science — Time for a New Vision,” in the New England Journal of Medicine, medical professionals, researchers, and policy makers alike have been wrestling with the same question: “What is translational research?”
While many definitions exist, as Steven H. Woolf, MD, MPH, points out in a JAMA commentary, “Translational research means different things to different people, but it seems important to almost everyone.” Translational medicine may be best defined through its process.
T1 or translational phase 1 begins the translation journey from bench to bedside to community. During this phase, researchers usually conduct preclinical studies and phase 1 and 2 clinical trials.
T2 expands discovery to larger patient populations in phase 3 and 4 clinical trials, observational studies, and even some survey research.
T3 launches the practice-oriented stage of translational research by implementing it to find out if a certain treatment or practice works in a real-world setting.
T4 focuses on policy. If T1-T3 were successful, the next step is to find the best method of reaching clinicians and patients with a nationwide policy concerning treatment X or strategy Y.