Scientists and physicians must overcome many impediments if they are to successfully complete cutting-edge clinical and translational research projects. These include understanding and gaining access to high technology resources and novel methodologies, acquiring pilot funds to test novel methodologies and develop preliminary data for grants, and overcoming barriers to effective multidisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborations. Thus the overall objective of the four inter-related units/initiatives of the Translational Technologies and Resources Division is to provide scientific and administrative infrastructure that will enable investigators as described below.
1) To accelerate the translation into the real world of emerging and novel technologies and methodologies (using the Novel Methods Unit) from discovery to preclinical and clinical application. The Novel Methods Unit focuses on emerging techniques/approaches that may require further development, customization and specific training for rapid deployment into research programs and protocols. Such technologies and approaches include microbial metagenomics, nanotechnology, smart sensors and the development of new algorithms for image analysis. As technologies become established, they may be included in the Cores Unit. Also included in the Novel Methods Unit is the Industry Partnership section, which will develop strategies to overcome barriers to the translation of knowledge from preclinical animal studies to human application and bridge the academic-industry interface.
2) To locate and utilize (using the Core Technologies Unit) the large and varied assortment of core facilities across our DCaTS institutions so that they are widely available to our researchers to execute clinical and translational research projects and to offer DCaTS-wide vouchers to researchers for use of core facilities. The Cores Unit will establish, enhance, and evaluate existing and proposed core facilities at the DCaTS institutions and enable clinical and basic scientists to effectively identify state-of-the-art methodologies to complement their translational research needs, ensuring that investigators have access to standard technologies such as genomics, proteomics and imaging.
3) To develop a system (using the Pilot Studies Unit) for distributing pilot and collaborative funding across DCaTS institutions based on the quality and promise of emerging clinical/translational research projects. To take full advantage of the above initiatives, researchers will need funding to develop their early ideas and to establish collaborations with others. The overall goal of the Pilot Studies Unit is to catalyze novel and collaborative interdisciplinary projects in translational and clinical research, especially those that capitalize on the unique strengths and resources available at the DCaTS partner institutions by performing inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional research.
4) To develop a set of specific resources (through the Precision Medicine Initiative) to ensure DCaTS partners are optimally positioned to accelerate the discovery, validation and clinical qualification of biomarkers. This specific area of emphasis in based upon a high level of interest in this rapidly emerging area of healthcare, and the availability of resources and expertise acrossDCaTS divisions and units that will be required to work cohesively to demonstrate DCaTS functionality.