Created by on 04/08/2011

On March 24-25, FASEB brought together leaders of the scientific community for a two day symposium to explore ways to engage basic scientists in translational research. The meeting, hosted by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and sponsored by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Burroughs Wellcome Fund, brought together over 150 basic, clinical and translational scientists, scientific journal editors, and leaders from private and public research funding organizations, research institutions, and professional societies to explore opportunities to increase the participation of basic scientists in translational research. The initiative is being led by Dr. Richard Galbraith, the Chair of FASEB’s Translational Research Steering Committee and the Associate Dean and Director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. It is aimed at analyzing the institutional changes necessary to enhance the contributions that basic scientists make to the development of new medical knowledge and applications.
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivered the opening address, discussing the barriers to translating fundamental knowledge into new drugs and devices, the critical contributions that basic investigators make to translation research, and the role that NIH, particularly through the proposed National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, will play in promoting the development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics. Dr. Collins was followed by a panel describing the benefits that both individual researchers and their institutions derive from basic scientists’ participation in translational research. The panel featured teams of researchers and institutional leaders from The Rockefeller University, Rice University, and Cornell University. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Mary Hendrix, the President and Scientific Director of the Children’s Memorial Research Center, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and former FASEB president, who described the development of her own translational research program focused on the genetics of cancer metastasis.
The second day of the symposium began with a panel discussion of the challenges of engaging basic researchers in translational work. These discussions set the stage for the main thrust of the meeting: four breakout sessions during which participants, led by leaders in the respective topic area, were asked to identify recommendations for building and capitalizing on the interest of basic investigators to develop translational research programs. The breakout groups focused on translational research training, providing appropriate recognition and rewards to basic scientists working in the translational space, facilitating productive research collaborations, and the role of private and public funding organizations.
FASEB’s steering committee is now focused on developing a white paper describing the major recommendations that emerged from the meeting. This paper will serve as the basis for future FASEB policy efforts in this area.

For more information on the symposium, including the meeting agenda and videos of each of the presentations, please click here.