To realize advances in knowledge to improve human health, research findings must be translated into practical applications. Yet little is known about how best to ensure that scientific discovery is used to inform and improve public health. Innovative behavioral and social sciences research is needed to identify approaches to closing the gap between research and practice.
The term translational research has been used to connote different phases of research depending on one’s perspective, but regardless this research is essential in order to address gaps between scientific discovery and program delivery. For example, basic biomedical research often begins at “the bench” where scientists study disease at a molecular or cellular level and then progresses to the development of new treatment options at the clinical level, or the patient's “bedside.” This concept of going from “the bench to the bedside” has been called Phase One Translation, or T1 research. The second area of translation research, called Phase Two Translation, or T2 research, refers to enhancing access to and the adoption of evidence-based strategies in clinical and community practice. The primary goal of T2 Translation is to institionalize effective programs, products, and services to improve health. Investment in both T1 and T2 research is an absolute necessity if we are ever to close the gap between research discovery, program delivery and effective health policy.
Dissemination and Implementation
Robust basic and applied knowledge from the behavioral and social sciences exits to prevent, reduce, and manage mental and physical conditions. We must now take what has been learned and put it into widespread practice and policy. We need to invest in a new rigorous science of dissemination, implementation, and policy. Accelerating the science of dissemination and implementation of health information and practices can have enormous impact on health and well-being, since small changes in behavior, adopted across a large population, in multiple domains, and early in life, can result in large long-term payoffs for personal and societal well-being.
2009 Bench-to-Bedside Awards
The purpose of the NIH Clinical Center’s Bench-to-Bedside (B2B) program is to encourage innovative projects that involve closer collaboration between laboratory and clinical researchers for the purpose of accelerating patient-oriented research for the diagnosis and therapeutic intervention of medical disorders. B2B was established in 1999 to integrate the work of basic and clinical scientists on the NIH campus. The program expanded in 2006 to encourage partnerships between intramural and extramural programs.
In 2008, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) joined the B2B program in order to foster the translation of basic behavioral and social science research findings into effective interventions to promote and improve health. OBSSR particularly encouraged applications for interdisciplinary research and systems thinking and modeling approaches that integrate multiple levels of analysis – from cells to society – of factors that influence health. Key problems in population health where scientists, practitioners, and decision-makers can work together to accelerate the translation, implementation, dissemination, and adoption of behavioral and social sciences research findings are of high priority to OBSSR.