Although scientific discoveries in the field of medicine are advancing at an increasingly rapid pace, the amount of time it takes for these discoveries to travel from the research laboratory to your local doctor’s office or hospital has not undergone a similar transformation. Many experts estimate it can take as long as 17 years for a promising new drug or therapy to overcome the myriad of clinical, financial and regulatory hurdles needed to bring discoveries to the wider community.
Steps have been taken over the past several years to address this disparity between scientific advancement and clinical implementation, including the establishment of 60 National Institutes of Health-funded centers across the United States focused on accelerating the translation of discoveries into practice. The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, a partnership between Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, was established in 2008 through a $25 million NIH Clinical and Translational Sciences Award along with $60 million in support from public-private partnerships across the state.
Educating future generations of researchers in how to turn their medical discoveries into therapies that reach patients is one of Indiana CTSI’s most important activities. To directly support this key role, the Translational Science Program of Indiana (TSPI) was launched in August 2011in collaboration with the IU School of Medicine.
To date TSPI has enrolled five students who, over the course of the two-year program, will get a crash course in all aspects of translational science. More recently, TSPI collaborated with the IU School of Medicine to create a fellowship program for medical students who take a year off from their primary studies to pursue an accelerated version of the master’s program. Eligible participants currently include students from the IU School of Medicine, with future plans to extend the program to different health science disciplines.