The discipline of clinical and translational science encompasses a broad spectrum of research, extending from basic discoveries with implications for human health to community-based epidemiologic and health services studies – and back! The unifying theme is a commitment to apply scientific methodologies to address a health need. As such, clinical and translational research is a multi-dimensional, cross-cutting discipline that encompasses multidisciplinary investigative teams from many different subspecialty areas. Moreover, success in clinical and translational science commonly requires constructive partnerships with industry, granting agencies, public health agencies, and regulatory agencies. Thus, many thousands of individuals in the United States are engaged in, or support, clinical and translational research.
The creation of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) by the NIH in 2006 dramatically heightened awareness of the discipline of clinical and translational science in academic institutions, industry, and philanthropy, as well as among the broader public and governmental leaders at the local, state, and national levels. With its focus on the creation and augmentation of advanced degree-granting training programs in clinical and translational science, the CTSA program also provided encouragement and new resources to create imaginative educational experiences for individuals who seek careers in clinical and translational research. When the CTSA reaches its stated goal of 60 centers, it is likely that there will be more than 1000 trainees in these programs at any time.
Discussions among CTSA leaders lead to the identification of a number of needs to advance clinical and translational science. These include, but are not limited to:
- The need to create a cultural identity for the emerging discipline of Clinical and Translational Science for all those who participate in or support the process.
- The need to assist trainees: a) in developing the knowledge and skills of clinical and translational science, including leadership and team building skills, b) by providing a forum for them to present their research findings to peers and more senior investigators, c) in planning their career development, d) in gaining access to the most recent information about developments in related fields, e) by providing an opportunity to network with academic leaders who may mentor them and/or recruit them to their institutions.
- The need to support and encourage the creation of multidisciplinary teams of investigators and professionals from related fields who have an appreciation of each other’s roles and the potential contributions they can make as a collective unit.
- The need to create and sustain institutional infrastructures to support clinical and translational research composed of professionals from related fields.
- The need to create constructive partnerships with industry.
- The need to understand the constantly evolving regulatory requirements for both the conduct of clinical and translational studies and for the approval of new diagnostics and therapeutics.
- The need to articulate a unified voice on public policy issues and the public and private funding of clinical and translational science.
Mission and Goals
The Association for Clinical and Translational Science was specifically created to address the needs identified above. As such, the Association's mission is to advance research and education in clinical and translational science so as to improve human health.
The immediate goals of the Association are:
- To conduct an annual meeting in cooperation with the American Federation for Medical Research (AFMR) that focuses on the needs of trainees and junior faculty; provides a forum and the CTSA consortium for dissemination of new developments in the design and conduct of clinical and translational research; provides a forum for leaders in governmental agencies, the private sector, and philanthropic organizations to provide updates on their programs related to clinical and translational research; and facilitates scientific collaborations and the development of a cultural identity for the discipline through opportunities for social networking.
- To articulate a unified voice on public policy and private and governmental funding related to clinical and translational science.
The missions of many different professional societies overlap the mission of the Association for Clinical and Translational Science, and the Association recognizes and respects the contributions that these societies make to advancing the discipline of clinical and translational science. As a result, the Association for Clinical and Translational Science is eager to partner with these societies and join in common cause to advance the field.