Advancing Translational Science

In recent years, the biomedical community often discussed the gap between research advances and clinical application and how best to solve it. In the Intramural Research Program (IRP), we have long been committed to the efficient transfer of scientific laboratory research into applications that benefit patient health and medical care. The existence of our NIH Clinical Center exemplifies this commitment to translational research.

The “bench-to-bedside” approach adopted in 1953 locates patient care units in close proximity to cutting-edge laboratories doing related research. Many research laboratories are literally just around the corner from the rooms of clinical trial participants. This facilitates interaction and collaboration among clinicians and researchers. Most importantly, patients and families in the NIH Clinical Center benefit from cutting-edge technologies, world-class research, and the compassionate care that are the signature of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

New programs at the NIH Clinical Center, such as the NIH Bench-to-Bedside Program, encourage the application of new findings in patients, often with the participation of investigators from outside institutions.

Recently, the NIH initiatied the Undiagnosed Diseases Program. This innovative program, led by the National Human Genome Research Institute, brings difficult-to-diagnose cases to the NIH Clinical Center for evaluation and possible treatment through new research protocols. This program places renewed emphasis on a long-standing practice at the NIH of studying new (and frequently rare) diseases. The work of IRP investigators on rare diseases and testing new therapies has been recognized nationally and internationally and continues to lead to important public health advances.

A newly established National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences facilitates translational research across the NIH and complements translational research efforts being conducted and supported by individual NIH Institutes and Centers.