Background and Purpose
Biomedical research has never before experienced such extraordinary opportunities for clinical advances across the spectrum of disease. These advances will help us understand the pathophysiology of disease processes and create treatments targeted to the molecular pathways that drive illness. It is now within our grasp to use these research tools and insights to prevent disease onset, tailor therapies to individual patient needs, and maintain or improve patient quality of life.
Several areas in science have fostered these advances. The mapping of the human genome provides a wealth of data on human development, physiology and evolution while accelerating developments in bioinformatics, proteomics, structural biology and gene therapy. The elucidation of cellular pathophysiology has broadened the scope of pharmacologic therapy. Current advances in functional neuroimaging allow investigators to observe patterns of brain activity associated with a range of mental states. New tools and measures that accurately gauge quality of life meet patients' needs.
To accelerate benefit to patients, knowledge acquired through basic biomedical research must be more quickly and efficiently translated into clinical studies. Translational research can move insights gained in the laboratory to successful clinical application in the community.
The substantial gap between research and clinical practice has been a hindrance to this goal, owing to a fragmented and outdated infrastructure. For translational research to be conducted successfully over the long term, silos must be broken down between institutions and disciplines and across the basic and clinical science divide, and the supporting infrastructure must undergo a global transformation. Biomedical research must be refocused on the central goal of delivering the benefits of science to the bedside and to the community.
Delivering Basic Science Discoveries to Bedside and Community
The mission of the Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) is to provide an environment that allows optimal use of our considerable multi-institutional assets and the diversity of our patient population to translate discoveries at the bench to the bedside and to the community. The CTSC is a conduit through which essential resources, technological tools and education programs for all partners can be efficiently shared and managed.
Integral to Weill Cornell's Strategic Plan for Research, which was initiated seven years ago, the plan for the CTSC brought to fruition the integration of existing inter-institutional resources among neighbors on York Avenue and partner institutions in the immediate area. The resulting cluster of East Side institutions forms a unique and cohesive biomedical complex fulfilling the NIH roadmap initiative of breaking down institutional silos and barriers separating scientific disciplines to accelerate the clinical application of basic science discoveries.
This center is funded through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs), a national consortium that is transforming how clinical and translational research is conducted. For more information about the national CTSA consortium please visit ctsaweb.org.
Fostering Innovation Through Integration
Each partner institution has a distinct character and proven record of academic excellence, as well as resources that can be used to enhance multi-disciplinary interaction. This interaction will foster strategies for promoting translation of research findings in the laboratory to clinical applications at the bedside and ultimately to best practices within underserved communities. The process is circuitous, continuous and self-stimulating, leading to the innovative generation of future research ideas (Figure below).