Can our patients’ and our own challenges and pain points spark a search for solutions?
One May evening nearly 3 years ago, hearing a mid-year grant update on a wearable sensor led me to think about many of our patients’ struggles with self-testing blood glucose (SMBG). That serendipitously led to a collaborative investigation on needle-free glucose monitoring with Joseph Wang, PhD, and his team of nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) where I currently teach and do research.
Healthcare professionals face gaps every day - between what we aspire to, and where we currently stand. A case in point: the divide between research and practice. Discoveries can take decades to reach patients, as tests or treatments. Translational research aims to catalyze discoveries from the bench to the bedside and bedside to community.1
The NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Program supports an innovative national network of centers that promote translational research2; UCSD’s Clinical and Translational Research Institute is 1 of among more than 50.3
How can we harness the best of research and practice, so that each informs and improves the other?
1. We must reach out and regularly engage with our colleagues across disciplines.
Steve Jobs purposely designed the new Pixar and Apple headquarters to be circular to promote spontaneous encounters among employees.
Opportunities for cross-disciplinary interactions and bouncing ideas off one another are virtually limitless and many are already within reach. These can be local—the grant update I attended was UCSD’s Academy of Clinician Scholars’ biannual meeting. There are also grand rounds, CME courses, and regular workshops. On a larger scale, there are annual professional society meetings—the American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions, or the annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Simply seek out a colleague from the academic world if you’re in private practice, or vice versa. One of my mentors is an anesthesiologist, and we’ve had some immensely interesting conversations that have generated ideas we have put to use.
1. Woolf SH. The Meaning of Translational Research and Why It Matters. JAMA. 2008;299:211–213.
2. US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. https://ncats.nih.gov/index.php. Accessed April 28, 2018.
3. Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, University of California San Diego. https://actri.ucsd.edu/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed April 28, 2018.
4. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. www.pcori.org. Accessed April 28, 2018.