What is “Translational Research?”

Translational research is the novel application of what scientists learn in the laboratory about the biology of a disease to the care of patients with that disease. This type of research tends to be highly innovative and “cutting edge.” Some of the most important advances to cancer treatment have occurred because of translational research.

Translational research is actually a process. Scientists conduct “basic” research (also called “bench” research) in the laboratory to understand the biology of cancer. Their results form the basis for clinical trials designed to improve the treatment of cancer patients (so-called “bench-to-bedside” research). The trials not only indicate whether a treatment is safe and effective, but also whether the laboratory models accurately reflect what happens in the patient. In addition a trial may reveal unforeseen information about how patients’ bodies react to a treatment or new vulnerabilities in the cancer. This feedback sparks more basic research (“bedside-to-bench”). The continual cycling of new information between basic research and clinical studies is known as translational research.

The Route 66 Endometrial Cancer SPORE team was selected by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to receive an $11.6 million Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant to focus on translational research in endometrial cancer. The projects supported by this five-year award are described here.