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Vol. LXI, No. 5
March 6, 2009

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‘From Science to Service’
OBSSR Hosts Conference on Dissemination, Implementation

On the front page...

As a way to improve public health in a battered world, understanding poverty counts as much as knowing how proteins fold. That’s why translational research doesn’t stop at new drugs and vaccines. It includes delivering interventions to those who need them most.

“Global health is suffering from a huge implementation bottleneck…and we’re not doing so well in implementation in the United States,” said Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Jim Yong Kim, plenary speaker at OBSSR’s 2nd annual conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation: Building Research Capacity to Bridge the Gap from Science to Service.


A distinguished physician and medical anthropologist, Kim spoke to a crowd that had braved an ice storm to assemble in Natcher Bldg.

Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Jim Yong Kim Kim urged investments in implementation research.
Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Jim Yong Kim Kim urged investments in implementation research.

“How do we think about delivery?” he asked. Of course we want more people in the lab, he said; yet he noted that even the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (the largest such funder in the world) does not use any money for research into health systems.

Terms of Translation

Dissemination is the spread of knowledge and intervention materials to a specific public health or clinical practice audience. Research on dissemination addresses how information on health promotion and care interventions is created, packaged, transmitted and interpreted.

Implementation is the use of strategies to adopt and integrate interventions and to change practice patterns within specific settings. Research on implementation explores how such interventions fit within real-world public health and clinical service systems.

“I think we have to say that not investing in qualitative research—systems research, delivery research, implementation research—is crazy,” Kim said. “Given that during President Obama’s 8 years, ahem”—here the audience chuckled—“health care costs in the United States will more than double.

“Why would you not invest $30 billion,” he continued, “if you can then attract the best and brightest to this fantastic new field…so that we can figure out what’s working and what’s not? I think this is the perfect role of NIH…starting something called the National Institute for Health Care Delivery.”

Two days of panels, presentations and posters welcomed these questions and more.

On his way to a session, participant Dr. Onesky Aupont of the University of Massachusetts said: “We are all on the same team. I could spend 5 hours operating on someone’s knee; but I could also design a policy that would help millions. I just wanted to affect more people than one at a time.” NIHRecord Icon

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