Table of Contents
Advances in Biology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 278789, 20 pages
Review Article

Translational Research: From Biological Discovery to Public Benefit (or Not)

Avoneaux Medical Institute, Oxford, MD 21654, USA

Received 18 February 2014; Revised 14 May 2014; Accepted 14 May 2014; Published 30 June 2014

Academic Editor: Dušan Kordiš

Copyright © 2014 Michael R. Emmert-Buck. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Advances in biology are occurring at a breathtaking pace today, from genetic insights facilitated by the Human Genome Project and next generation DNA sequencing technologies, to global nucleic acid and proteomic expression measurement using new high-throughput methods. Less publicized in recent years, yet still the central driver of progress, are the steadily proceeding biological insights gained through tried and true hypothesis-driven investigation into the complex worlds of metabolism, growth, development, and regulation. Certainly, the basic science ecosystem is productive and this portends well for the myriad new applications that will benefit mankind; drugs, vaccines, devices, and related economic growth—or perhaps not—in stark contrast to the generation of fundamental biological knowledge are inefficiencies in applying this information to real-world problems, especially those of the clinic. While investigation hums along at light speed, translation often does not. The good news is that obstacles to progress are tractable. The bad news, however, is that these problems are difficult. The present paper examines translational research from multiple perspectives, beginning with a historical account and proceeding to the current state of the art. Included are descriptions of successes and challenges, along with conjecture on how the field may need to evolve in the future.