When UC Davis became one of the first 12 academic health centers to receive the inaugural Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) in 2006, the National Institutes of Health was recognizing the leadership of our institution in the growing arena of translational research.
Translational research is becoming a much more common and familiar term for scientists, clinicians and health-care consumers alike as its importance to improved health grows. In its simplest definition, translational research refers to a focused effort by government, academic research institutions, the pharmaceutical industry and others to move basic science discoveries from the laboratory to the patient-care setting in the form of new treatments and therapies. Historically, many hurdles, including the lack of interaction between clinicians and basic scientists, have separated the science of discovery from the practice of medicine.
The CTSA program aims to resolve the disconnect by transforming how clinical research is conducted in our nation – and UC Davis is at the forefront of this bold initiative.
As a leader of this new vision for research, we are bringing together:
These efforts also require us to establish links with diverse groups so that we can better prioritize research, identify participants, expand our collective understanding and share the results as broadly as possible. By involving our communities, other institutions and experts from a variety of disciplines, we widen our perspective. And that, in turn, ensures the quality, success and impact of our work.
Our stem cell research now under way will clearly be one of the beneficiaries of our focus on translational science. As UC Davis basic scientists continue to explore how to use stem cells to prevent, reverse, improve or cure human diseases, we are moving closer to launching clinical trials of stem cell therapies to treat heart attacks, retinal occlusion and peripheral artery disease. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held later this month for the new UC Davis stem cell research center, which is symbolic of UC Davis' efforts to help patients here at home, as well as across the globe, by better linking scientific discovery with patient care.
The CTSA program is not only encouraging institutions to collaborate more fully within their own organizations, but also with each other across the nation in order to share best practices. Several of the leaders in that national effort are our own colleagues – Lars Berglund, Fred Meyers, Alice Tarantal and Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola. I am so proud that others are looking to UC Davis and its expert faculty for the solutions to the research challenges that are impeding progress in advancing the nation's health.
At UC Davis, we are dedicated to discovering and sharing knowledge and that means thinking in new ways. Our commitment to clinical and translational research extols these new challenges – and new opportunities. As the UC Davis team embraces these opportunities, I am proud that we lead the way in transforming medical research and advancing the health of the diverse communities we serve.