Translational Medicine

Bringing Medicine from Bench to Bedside

05.07.13 | By Salvatore Alesci

A recent article in the Telegram discussed translation medicine, a discipline that tries to reduce the gaps between discoveries made in the research laboratory and their application in clinical practice. Relatedly, the PhRMA Foundation has created a new program on Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (TMT) to support talented scientists who would like to pursue a career in this new exciting discipline. The goal of the program is to efficiently advance the product of basic research to patients and to use clinical observation to further basic research.

The five recipients of the 2013 awards were selected from a highly competitive group of 76 applicants based on each candidate’s potential contributions to research, training, and workforce development. TMT Postdoctoral Fellowships will provide $60,000 stipends to enrich postdoctoral training and career growth. Research Starter Grants of $100,000 are designated for faculty who are establishing independent research careers in the field.

Two-year fellowships will be awarded to Stefanie Sowinski, PhD, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology; Tarsheen Sethi, PhD, University of Louisville Department of Internal Medicine; and Timothy Hohman, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. Recipients of the Research Starter Grant are Radojka Savic, PhD, University of California, San Francisco Department of Bioengineering Therapeutic Sciences; and Michelle Kimple, PhD, University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. Awardees will receive funding on July 1, 2013.

“The TMT program is focused on funding high-impact projects and will additionally work to publicly discuss and support the design, implementation, and results of such projects, especially as they convert to clinical application,” said Michael Liebman, PhD, Managing Director of Strategic Medicine, Inc., and Chair of the PhRMA Foundation’s TMT Advisory Committee. “Even as a new program, TMT received approximately four times the anticipated response in applications, which enabled the Advisory Committee to select the ‘best of the best.’”

Translational Medicine is an exciting area of research addressing patients’ needs in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, with the potential to accelerate the development of novel medical therapies worldwide. But there are barriers to overcome, such as the need for more predictive tools and models to evaluate compounds as they advance through the pipeline, and clear guidance from regulators on how these tools and models can be properly qualified and consistently adopted in the drug development and evaluation process .

As Dr. William Chin, executive dean for research at Harvard Medical School and  professor of translational medicine science, said in the Telegram article, "It's still a culture change. Maybe the challenge has to be really bad for us to believe we have to share."

We hope that, with the increasing number of R&D challenges, the culture is changing and we are ready to increasingly embrace the promise and benefits of the multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach of translational research, to advance new medicines “from bench to bedside”.



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