Challenges to Translational Research
PDE staff participated in a Capitol Hill briefing on translational research sponsored by the Council for American Medical Innovation. Our report of the event follows:
On Thursday, September 17, the Council for American Medical Innovation brought together policy experts for its Capitol Hill briefing “Translational Research: From Bench to Bedside,” the second in a series of discussions about achieving “Recovery through Discovery.”
Translational research refers to scientific discoveries that advance to the clinical level where they are translated into practical applications and treatments. Debra Lappin, President of the Council for American Medical Innovation, highlighted that many medical discoveries remain on the “bench,” as shown by the slowing rate at which U.S. innovators have been able to bring new drugs into the market. According to a GAO Report, the number of new drug applications submitted to the FDA each year generally declined after 1999.
Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said that the best way to foster translational research is to put together in the same setting basic and clinical researchers. Leshner announced an upcoming journal of translational research. With the journal, his organization seeks to fill the void in venues to publish translational research.
Amy Comstock Rick, CEO of the Parkinson's Action Network, cited deficient structures for translational research at the National Institutes of Health as a major challenge to moving basic research out of the lab and through the development pipeline.
To develop infrastructures that support translational research, Lesa Mitchell, Vice President for Advancing Innovation at the Kauffman Foundation, called for a new way of thinking about the problem. “The essence of the problem is thinking about it as a sequential process,” she explained. Since translational research is an iterative process, linear models of innovation commercialization constitute a misguided approach. Mitchell introduced two models of support for innovators and entrepreneurs. One of these models looks at the university-side of innovation and focuses on connecting the various sciences with outside organizations through university initiatives like the Proof of Concept Centers, which provide seed funding and expert assistance to help entrepreneurs move innovations to the marketplace. The second model is currently being implemented by philanthropic organizations and consists of de-risking early stage studies. Other models are currently being discussed by the Translational Medicine Alliance, a forum supported by Kauffman Foundation that brings together several stakeholder groups in the biomedical research and drug development worlds.
A video of the event will be made available, here. The Council for American Medical Innovation will host its third briefing on Capitol Hill, “Incentives for American Medical Innovation – Protecting America's Greatest Innovators” on October 5th.
[Reported by Cristina Fernandez]