About Translational Science

Defining translational research and translational science — and why it matters

Aligning with the University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) vision to advance and accelerate research to reduce health disparities and improve the health of our community and the nation, research teams in the Buffalo Translational Consortium (BTC) are committed to performing translational research and translational science.

Translational research takes scientific discoveries made in the laboratory, the clinic, or in the field and transforms them into new treatments and approaches to medical care that improve the health of the population. This work spans the path from basic research observations through preclinical and clinical activities to implement new treatments and advances into healthcare.

This path from a basic science observation to a new, effective treatment is a long and inefficient undertaking that is fraught with bottlenecks and obstacles. For example, the first identification of a candidate drug to FDA approval takes 14 to 17 years with an average cost of one to two billion dollars. Implementation of a new treatment into community practice can add another decade or more until communities see the benefit to the new intervention. 

Translational science is the process that speeds the development of new innovations into clinical use. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) defines translational science as “the field that generates innovations that overcome longstanding bottlenecks and roadblocks to accelerate progress along the translational research pipeline. These include scientific, operational, financial, and administrative innovations that transform the way that research is done.”

Translational science is focused on understanding the scientific and operational principles underlying each step of the translational process. It is how research findings are accelerated to healthcare, thus impacting people in Western New York and around the world. 

Overlap exists between translational research and translational science. Successful translational researchers inevitably encounter barriers and figure out how to overcome them, often through trial and error. Translational science brings scientific rigor to addressing barriers and understanding the pipeline — the principles in each step along that translational process — and then developing and testing ways to expedite that research process and the time it takes to bring new healthcare interventions to treatment for patients.

NCATS has outlined the principles of translational science that are guiding our translational science approaches. These include: 

  • Prioritize initiatives that address unmet needs: In the BTC we place a priority on developing approaches that include populations that have long been excluded from the benefits of participating in clinical and translational research.
  • Produce generalizable solutions for common and persistent challenges: The single greatest bottleneck in the translational pipeline is recruitment to clinical trials. We have developed an extensive Recruitment Resources Toolkit with a variety of approaches intended for different populations and different types of studies.  
  • Emphasize creativity and innovation: Our CTSI hosts Creative Science Workshops to inspire and encourage creative solutions to translational bottlenecks.
  • Leverage cross-disciplinary team science: The most innovative research is performed by multidisciplinary teams. 
Translational Science Principles.
Translational Science Principles.
  • Enhance the efficiency and speed of translational research: UB’s implementation of IT platforms, including Central Study Registration, CLICK, and OnCore Clinical Trials Management System, is an example of enhancing efficiency in the start-up of clinical studies.
  • Utilize boundary crossing partnerships: The CTSI Team Science Core showed that interdisciplinary grants at UB have increased significantly over the last five years and that departments with more interdisciplinary grants receive more research funding. 
  • Use bold and rigorous research approaches: The field of translational science is intended to bring scientific rigor to the trial-and-error approach to overcome obstacles that has long been applied.
  • Prioritize Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA): In order to improve the health of our community, it is critical that we design and use methods to address the social determinants of health as part of a holistic approach to engage our communities in research and healthcare. 

The UB CTSI is firmly committed to these principles. We have multiple cores and tools designed to assist research teams. We encourage you to explore our website and to reach out to our cores for expert consultation and support.