What Is Clinical and Translational Research (CTR)?

The National Institutes of Health defines translation as “the process of turning observations in the laboratory, clinic and community into interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public–from diagnostics and therapeutics to medical procedures and behavioral changes.”

Translational science focuses on understanding the scientific and operational principles underlying each step of the translational process.

Learn more about the five different phases of translational science, including:

  • Basic Research-Basic research involves scientific exploration that can reveal fundamental mechanisms of biology, disease, or behavior. (This research is not funded by the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Pilot Grant Program)
  • Pre-clinical Research-Pre-clinical research connects the basic science of disease with human medicine. During this stage, scientists develop model interventions to further understand the basis of a disease or disorder and find ways to treat it. Testing is carried out using cell or animal models of disease; samples of human or animal tissues; or computer-assisted simulations of drug, device or diagnostic interactions within living systems.
  • Clinical Research-Clinical research includes studies to better understand a disease in humans and relate this knowledge to findings in cell or animal models; testing and refinement of new technologies in people; testing of interventions for safety and effectiveness in those with or without disease; behavioral and observational studies; and outcomes and health services research.
  • Clinical Implementation-The clinical implementation stage of translation involves the adoption of interventions that have been demonstrated to be useful in a research environment into routine clinical care for the general population. This stage also includes implementation research to evaluate the results of clinical trials and to identify new clinical questions and gaps in care.
  • Public Health-In this stage of translation, researchers study health outcomes at the population level to determine the effects of diseases and efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat them. Findings help guide scientists working to assess the effects of current interventions and to develop new ones.

Find out the answers to below questions and more by viewing this short video about CTR from NCATS, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

  • What does a CTR researcher do?
  • How long does it take for a newly discovered drug to reach your doctor’s office?
  • Why are therapeutic drugs so expensive?