Overview

The pursuit of translational medicine – the process of applying ideas, insights and discoveries generated through basic science research to improving human health - is one of UCSF's priorities as it advances into the next decade of the 21st century.

Through dedicated efforts and major grants, including $108 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), UCSF stands at the forefront of the movement to bring together basic scientists, clinical researchers, and industry partners to speed the translation of medical advances from the laboratory to clinical services.

S. Claiborne Johnston, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and epidemiology and associate vice chancellor of research, directs the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

“Many people think of us as particularly well positioned to take advantage of translational medicine,” says S. Claiborne Johnston, MD, PhD, associate vice chancellor of research and director of UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). CTSI was established in 2006 when the University received the NIH grant, the second-largest in the country for translational work.

While Johnston says the scope of translational work at UCSF is fairly broad, extending across all schools and from research labs to clinical services, he narrows the field to two main categories: from bench to bedside, which aims to take research from the laboratory to humans for early-stage clinical trials; and then from clinical trials into wider communities.

Major centers at UCSF, such as the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), located on the UCSF Mission Bay campus, are dedicated to moving researchers into closer contact with the organizations that can take their work to the next level, often by partnering with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, which are experienced in advancing a therapy to the marketplace.

UCSF faculty who specialize in basic science and clinical research are eager also to apply the knowledge developed in University labs. “There is a wonderful synergy between the research and the clinical components here,” says Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “That’s the magical sauce that UCSF has.”