Defining the Phases of Translational Research

Over the past ten years, phases along the translational research spectrum have evolved. While this has created a more holistic picture of translational science, there has been a lack of agreement as to what research activities define a given “t phase” and just how many phases there should be. Mapping the Evolving Definitions of Translational Research, published in Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, addresses these disparities by establishing a standard definition of each research phase.

This paper was published by Dan Fort, PhD,MPH, Postdoctoral Fellow in Health and Biomedical Informatics and TL1 scholar; Tim Herr, PhD Candidate in Health and Biomedical Informatics;  Pamela Shaw, MSLIS, MS, Biosciences and Bioinformatics Librarian; Karen Gutzman, MS, MA, Impact and Evaluation Librarian; and Justin B. Starren, MD, PhD, Chief, Division of Health and Biomedical Informatics and Director of NUCATS Center for Data Science and Informatics.

Working with the Galter Health Sciences Librarians, Dr. Fort conducting a systematic review of 33 research papers to identify 25 distinct areas of research. These research areas included: biomarker discovery, quality improvement, community engagement, population to lab feedback and health policy research. By looking at where these concepts were placed along the translational research spectrum in each of these papers, Dr. Fort was able to identify patterns and trends. This led him to establish standard definitions of the various T phases as well as which research activities fell into them.

The phases include:

  • T0: Closes the research cycle back to T1
  • T1: Processes from basic research to initial testing in humans
  • T2: Early phases clinical trials and the time when effectiveness of interventions and establishment of clinical guidelines 
  • T3: Implementation and dissemination
  • T4: Outcomes and effectiveness research

“The most important thing we can contribute is a common understanding of the meaning of translational research,” said Dr. Fort. “We have to speak the same language.”

Posted: April 3, 2017

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