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A Change in Culture

The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation has awarded the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia one of nine $4.5M Translational Research Partnership Awards in Biomedical Engineering. The task facing the department is twofold: support research projects that are explicitly translational in nature, and in the process, test and validate models of translational research that can be widely adopted

“The idea is to begin to conduct research from the start with the recognition of its downstream clinical impact,” says Tom Skalak, Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia. “This requires a change in culture as well as the development of systems to support this culture.”

Science Serving Humanity

Wallace H. Coulter was an engineer, inventor, entrepreneur and visionary. He was co-founder and chairman of Coulter Corp., a worldwide medical diagnostics company headquartered in Miami, Fla. Prior to his death Mr. Coulter established the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation to fund improving health care through medical research and engineering. The Foundation’s flagship program is the Translational Research Partnership Award.

About Translational Research

Although translational research is not new, the term is. A simple way to understand translational research is as a bridge between basic and applied research perspectives, with an end goal of improving human health. From the Coulter Foundation’s perspective, and for the purposes of the U.Va.-Coulter Partnership Award, translational research is research that has some or all of the following characteristics:

It is driven primarily by considerations of use and practical application of the research results, as opposed to basic research, which is driven primarily by a quest for knowledge.

It envisions the development of a practical solution that addresses a particular clinical problem or unmet clinical need.
The research results generally include protectable intellectual property.

It involves clinical application as a goal, and therefore requires a transition or translation of the research from a research laboratory to the clinic – from bench to bedside.

It often envisions a particular product as the endpoint of development.

It involves commercialization as a goal and therefore requires a transfer of the technology from the academic institution to a commercial entity for final product development, manufacturing, marketing and sales.