Clinical science includes all research studies of health and disease, including trials of treatments for the prevention and treatment of diseases that involve human subjects. It is often contrasted to basic science, which includes research studies that are done outside of humans, often involving animals, cultured cells, or other laboratory experiments aimed at understanding basic biological processes or mechanisms underlying disease states. Because basic studies usually precede clinical studies, they are sometimes referred to as “preclinical” studies.
Translational science is broader than clinical science, and refers to the entire spectrum of research studies that encompasses all of the steps between a fundamental basic science discovery and its eventual application to clinical medicine. Translational research is often divided into two broad areas. The first area of translation is the process of applying discoveries generated by basic science research in laboratories to studies and trials in humans to determine how these discoveries might help to understand, prevent or treat human diseases. This first area of translation, from laboratory findings to clinical practice (and also the reverse process, from clinical observations back to the laboratory for further testing) is often called “bench to bedside and back”, or “T1” translation. The second area of translation is research that is aimed at determining how medical advances are put into practice in the community, and assessing the impact of the adoption of new therapies, or of their lack of utilization, on the health and well being of the population of our communities. This is often called the “T2” phase of translational science.
Both T1 and T2 types of translation are essential for optimal improvement of the health of both individuals and population groups. However, many obstacles lie in the path of efficient and effective translation in both areas. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recognized and is addressing this issue through the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, which is a pivotal part of the NIH Roadmap to accelerate all aspects of translational science. The CTSA’s can be thought of as the bridges between basic science discoveries and clinical application of those discoveries to our patients that enable and promote more efficient sharing of knowledge and ideas, as depicted in the Monet painting below.
The overarching goals of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) are:
1. To speed improvements in human health by stimulating innovative, multidisciplinary, and cross-institutional research among the investigators of our institutions and communities.
2. To support the careers of clinical and translational investigators through a wide variety of educational programs coupled with focused mentorship.
3. To enhance clinical and translational research on underserved populations, both in the Washington DC region and nationally, prominently including minorities, the aged, and the disabled.
Through these goals, GHUCCTS will enhance both T1 and T2 translation of new scientific discoveries and ideas to tangible improvements in the health of the diverse communities of the greater Washington DC area, as well as the nation.