Translational Research Track in the Integrated Medical Curriculum

Translational research integrates basic research, patient-oriented research, and population-based research and leads to the transformation of scientific discoveries made in the laboratory, clinical setting, or population setting to clinical applications such as interventions to prevent, diagnose, or treat disease. 

What Is Translational Research?


The TRT (Translational Research Track) is designed so that throughout their four years of medical school, students interact with graduate students in the Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine (HPTM) graduate program.  This is essential because of the very nature of translational research, which:

  • While typically described as “bench-to-bedside”, is in fact bi-directional, involving the application of basic scientific discoveries to the clinical environment and the generation of scientific questions based on clinical observations
  • Requires multi-disciplinary and inter-professional interactions
  • Is dependent on the creation of collaborative teams of laboratory scientists, clinicians and physician-scientists. 

At the completion of this track, medical students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate practical knowledge of effective research design for translational research projects
  2. work with PhD students and scientists to identify research questions of importance to human health and participate in study  planning and execution
  3. function in collaborative inter-professional teams with PhD students and scientists
  4. create a scholarly product describing a translational research project in which they have participated

Get the TRT (Translational Research Track) flyer and the TRT Application Form here!

 


 

Track Components and requirements


This track is aimed at medical students potentially interested in academic medical careers relevant to improving human health.  The goals of the Translational Research Track are to: a) stimulate interest among medical students in careers in academic medicine b) promote appreciation for the role of scientific research in medical progress  and c) encourage future participation in collaborative, inter-professional translational research projects.

 

Small groups, core basic science courses (year 1, modules 1-3, GAR, MCT, PHD).  Medical students selecting this track will be assigned to PBL small groups that include PhD students in the Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine graduate program (HPTM).  This small groups of  8-9 students will participate in the same PBL cases and laboratory sessions as their SOM peers, but will share these learning opportunities with graduate students, with the goal of developing close working relationships, common bodies of knowledge, including familiarity with vocabulary and concepts of basic biomedical science and clinical medicine.  Facilitators for these groups will be selected from the HPTM curriculum faculty, and trained in PBL methodology by Office of Educational Development educators. 

 

Inter-professional  translational research enrichment activity series Y1-2: (year 1, module 4, yr 2 throughout).  This enrichment activity, which will require 1-2 hour time investment per month, will allow graduate students and medical students to come back together in groups to participate in lectures, workshops, and guided inquiry sessions concerning: a) regulatory issues in human subjects research and animal research b) experimental animal models c) comparative anatomy d) introduction to the clinical laboratory environment, and e) clinical conferences with research correlations.

 

Inter-professional Translational Research Design (ITRD) course: (summer between yr 1 and yr 2).  The Inter-professional Translational Research Design (ITRD) course will team HPTM students with UTMB medical students in the translational track in an 8 week required course in identifying a translational problem and designing translational research projects.  The course will use a combination of guided inquiry and more standard workshop and didactic formats to lead students through the processes of identifying a research question, generating a hypothesis, and reviewing the literature to develop rationale for the study.  Experimental design, including basic statistical approaches, will be discussed.  Other topics such as protection of human subjects, the search for funding sources, writing IRB protocols and grant applications will be touched on.  The final product of the course will be a small grant proposal on a translational topic.  Students will work in small teams (2-4 students) that include at least one PhD and one MD student.  Each individual student will be required to generate his/her own interdisciplinary research proposal and demonstrate participation in the research proposal generated by their partner.  Defined weekly interim assignments will lead the students towards the final research proposal.  Student progress will be discussed in classroom sessions.  In addition,   course faculty will provide detailed feedback and formative assessments on an individual basis.  Faculty mentors will also provide enrichments experiences regarding technical approaches and/or clinical relevance that will be tailored to each group’s research topic.  These enrichment sessions will include time in a laboratory observing/learning laboratory techniques and/or time in a clinical setting.    Culminating activities will include:  1) final evaluation of proposals in a mock study section in class session and 2) presentation of research proposal in poster format at the MSSRP poster session.  The research proposal will be graded based on scientific soundness, and evidence of interdisciplinary, inter-professional collaborative interactions.  It is possible, and desirable, that medical students could develop a proposal and faculty mentor(s) that could guide a future research project for their research electives in years 3 and 4.  Faculty contact:  enrichment activities in laboratory or clinical setting.

 

Estimated contact time:  Inter-professional Translational Research Design Course

Week/
activity

Classroom

Self-directed: 
proposal development

Faculty contact: 
Individual formative
assessment of proposal by faculty mentor

Faculty contact: 
enrichment activities in laboratory or clinical setting

1

15 hrs/wk

10 hrs/wk

2-5 hrs/wk

5 hrs/wk

2

15

15

2-5

5

3

10

15

2-5

10

4

6

15

2-5

10

5

6

15

2-5

10

6

6

15

2-5

10

7

6

15

2-5

10

8

4 (+ poster
Session)

15

2-5

5

 

Year 3 Electives:  Students will select a 1-month research elective from a menu of options.  This will include course offerings by the Institute for Translational Sciences and others.  Students may also work with HPTM/ITS faculty to create a new research elective, which must be approved by the curriculum committee of the HPTM.  Electives will combine translational research with career information around non-clerkship clinical specialties (e.g., pathology, anesthesiology).

 

Translational research seminar series and “meet the professor”.  This seminar series will team physicians and basic scientists to give presentations that illustrate the bi-directional collaborative nature of translational research.  The goal of this seminar series is to demonstrate the important functions of inter-professional communication  in driving successful translational research projects.  Seminars will be held one evening per month—medical students will be required to attend 2 seminars per semester in years 1-4.  Students will participate in discussion with the professors after the seminar.  To accommodate Austin-based or other off campus students, these sessions will be available as “webinars”.  HPTM graduate students will also be required to participate in this activity.

 

Year 4:  Aside from an additional month of research elective (see above), students will enroll in a Basic Science Selective course related to translational research.  As a requirement for the Basic Science Selective course, students will write a manuscript detailing their research project.  A menu of approved selective and elective opportunities will be available, and will include those offered through the ITS and Honors program. 

 

Summary of Translational Research Track Activities

Activity

Year available

Contact time

Comment/Description

GAR for translational research track

Year 1

8 weeks

For the three basic science core courses of the IMC, students in the TR track will work in PBL groups and laboratory sessions alongside graduate students in the Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine curriculum

MCT for translational research track

Year 1

8 weeks

PHD for translational research track

Year 1

8 weeks

Inter-professional translational research enrichment activity

Years 1 and 2

1-2 hours/month

Interactive sessions on topics, such as regulatory issues in human subjects research and animal research, experimental animal models, introduction to the clinical laboratory environment, clinical conferences with research correlations. 

Inter-professional Translational Research Design course

Summer between year 1 and 2

8 weeks, full time activity

Students will work alongside HPTM graduate students to learn fundamentals of experimental design via active learning modalities.  Students will be exposed to research techniques in laboratory rotations in the lab of an HPTM program faculty member.  The final product of the course will be a small grant proposal on a translational topic.

Translational Research Seminar Series and “meet the professor”

Years  1-4

2 sessions/term (4-6 hours/term)

This informal seminar style course will be based on the ITS Research Seminar series.  After the seminar, students will meet with the professor to discuss their research, careers in biomedical research, working in interdisciplinary teams, etc. The seminars will occur monthly, but TR track students will select 2 per semester to attend.

Translational Research Elective

Year 3 and Year 4

4 week elective

Students must take one approved research elective during the third year and at least one during the 4th year.  A menu of options is available, and includes ITSU 4033 “Translational Research:  From bench to Bedside” and others, as approved by HPTM program faculty.

Translational Research Selective

Year 4

4 week elective

Students must select an approved Basic Sciences selective from the list of course offerings, or develop a new selective with HPTM faculty.  Samples include ITSU 4011 “Translational Rresearch, from bench to bedside” and NCBU 4005 “Honors research program”