The Emerging Field of Translational Science

Translational research is the scientific process by which observations in the laboratory, clinic and community are turned into interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public — from diagnostics and therapeutics to medical procedures and behavioral changes. Translation is a multidisciplinary, iterative process involving basic research, preclinical research, clinical research, clinical implementation, public health, and patient involvement. Learn more about the translational science spectrum.

As shown in the Drug Discovery, Development and Deployment Maps, the multidisciplinary nature of translational research requires sophisticated interactions among scientific collaborators across a range of expertise. Such interactions create scientific and operational complexities that produce both opportunities and challenges for the research. For example, they might accelerate innovation, but they also may create such challenges as poor communication and coordination of workflows.

Translational science is the emerging field of investigation focused on building the evidence base for effective scientific and operational approaches in translational research. This evidence, when applied to new or ongoing research initiatives, can enhance innovativeness, effectiveness and efficiency, addressing core challenges in the biomedical research enterprise. Read more about the promise of translational science to advance biomedical research in this article, “Translating Translation.”

Leadership in Translational Science

NCATS provides national and international leadership to advance the field of translational science, through both its extramural and intramural activities. Extramurally, NCATS supports advances in translational science via the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program. Intramurally, the NCATS Division of Preclinical Innovation (DPI) develops and implements novel approaches for translational science training. The NCATS Education Branch provides leadership to advance the field of translational science, with a focus on training, education and career pathways.

Using Translational Science to Address Challenges in Translational Research

NCATS is working toward the development of effective scientific and operational approaches to address common challenges in translational research. Learn more about the issues in translation NCATS aims to address:

Download the Transforming Translational Science fact sheet to learn more about translational science.