History of translational medicine

An approach based on translational medicine does not represent a new system. It is rather a return to the roots – naturally, rethought for the 21st century. In the 1950s, clinical systems were structured such that clinical studies, patient care and theoretical research were all done in the same place and members of research teams worked in all these areas. Developments in the decades that followed and the specialization of research areas led to a separation of clinical research (e.g. internal medicine and surgery) and theoretical studies (e.g. biology and molecular biology in particular). It was this separation of types of research that brought about one of the greatest challenges in medicine in the late 20th century. In a number of cases, those engaged in the two types no longer speak the same language. Despite the fact that billions of dollars are spent on theoretical and pharmaceutical research, the number of products/drugs in patient care has not risen. According to an oft-cited statistic, only a tiny proportion of the several thousand candidate drug molecules, that is, about a thousand molecules, reach the preclinical phase.

Interwoven with the clinical and basic research system, the translational model seeks clear answers to questions that have arisen in clinical patient care, thus leading to a tangible improvement in population health.