A consensus working definition was recently formulated: "Translational research fosters the multidirectional integration of basic research, patient-oriented research, and population-based research, with the long- term aim of improving the health of the public. T1 research expedites the movement between basic research and patient-oriented research that leads to new or improved scientific understanding or standards of care. T2 research facilitates the movement between patient- oriented research and population-based research that leads to better patient outcomes, the implementation of best practices, and improved health status in communities. T3 research promotes interaction between laboratory-based research and population-based research to stimulate a robust scientific understanding of human health and disease". Acad Med. 2010; 85: 470-475.
The HPTM program at UTMB focuses on the T1 aspect of the translational research spectrum. This program was designed to respond to the following issues:
- Translational Research as a discipline is rapidly expanding.
- Combined MD-PhD programs have not succeeded in providing a cost-effective approach to addressing the need for well-trained translational scientists.
- Lack of training programs to develop translational scientists capable of forming functional interdisciplinary teams with physicians and other actors of the health care system.
- The traditional boundaries between basic and clinical sciences are still maintained in most higher education institutions. Graduate programs reflect such a division and constitute a barrier to the development of cooperative efforts along the translational research spectrum.
- Recognized limited ability of scientists and physicians to work together, be conversant in common relevant vocabulary, and to appreciate the roles of each member of a translational research team.
- Need for improved congruence between the advanced technological/scientific approaches available to study biomedical problems and the application of these approaches to human health and disease, resulting in relevant diagnostic, therapeutic, and health care prevention modalities.
- Outdated and ineffective educational strategies in biomedical graduate education with predominance of lecture-based courses and content-based evaluations.