Translational research

Translational research – often used interchangeably with translational medicine or translational science or bench to bedside – is an effort to build on basic scientific research to create new therapies, medical procedures, or diagnostics. Basic biomedical research is based on studies of diseases processes using for example cell cultures or animal models.

The term translational refers to the “translation” of basic scientific findings in a laboratory setting into potential treatments for disease.

Surgeon-scientists are an essential component of the field of academic surgery, contributing to the fundamental understanding of disease and the discovery of innovative therapies. Despite this recognized value, the current landscape of academic medicine presents significant barriers to establishing and maintaining a successful career as a surgeon performing basic/translational research.

There is a significant decline in the proportion of academic surgeons who are pursuing basic science/translational research, which represents a potential threat to the very identity of the translational surgeon-scientist.

Based on published literature and expert opinion, the Basic Science Committee of the Society of University of Surgeons prepared a roadmap to encourage and guide the next generation of surgeon-scientists as they embark on their academic careers.

This roadmap highlights key elements to consider in choosing an initial job and the importance of identifying a team of committed mentors. Expectations and guidelines for the first several years in practice are offered.

With guidance and mentorship, aspiring surgeon scientists can overcome the challenges inherent in choosing this career path and sustain the important legacy of those before them 1).

Limitations in genetic stability and recapitulating accurate physiological disease properties challenge the utility of patient-derived (PD) cancer models for reproducible and translational research.

Uhlmann et al. genetically engineered a portfolio of isogenic human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) with different pan-cancer relevant oncoprotein signatures followed by differentiation into lineage-committed progenitor cells. Characterization on molecular and biological level validated successful stable genetic alterations in pluripotency state as well as upon differentiation to prove the functionality of the approach Meanwhile proposing core molecular networks possibly involved in early dysregulation of stem cell homeostasis, the application of the cell systems in comparative substance testing indicates the potential for cancer research such as identification of augmented therapy resistance of stem cells in response to activation of distinct oncogenic signatures 2).

Goldstein AM, Blair AB, Keswani SG, Gosain A, Morowitz M, Kuo J, Levine M, Ahuja N, Hackam DJ; Basic Science Committee of the Society of University Surgeons. A Roadmap for Aspiring Surgeon-Scientists in Today's Healthcare Environment. Ann Surg. 2018 Jun 28. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002840. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29958227.
Uhlmann C, Nickel AC, Picard D, Rossi A, Li G, Hildebrandt B, Brockerhoff G, Bendt F, Hübenthal U, Hewera M, Steiger HJ, Wieczorek D, Perrakis A, Zhang W, Remke M, Koch K, Tigges J, Croner RS, Fritsche E, Kahlert UD. Progenitor cells derived from gene-engineered human induced pluripotent stem cells as synthetic cancer cell alternatives for in vitro pharmacology. Biotechnol J. 2022 Mar 25:e2100693. doi: 10.1002/biot.202100693. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35334498.
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