As Louis Pasteur noted over a century ago, “There are not two sciences. There is science and the application of science, and these two are linked, as the fruit is to the tree.” Applying this concept to health care, NINR director Dr. Patricia Grady noted in a recent talk given at the University of Washington in Seattle that “research and practice are integral and inseparable…Research disconnected from its own translation fails to address our health needs and challenges; practice disconnected from evidence-based research operates on supposition and bias.”
Grady visited the UW School of Nursing to participate in a dialogue about the future of nursing research and interdisciplinary translational science. The school, consistently ranked among the top in funding support from NINR and NIH, has an extensive interdisciplinary research program. Its Center for Women’s Health & Gender Research was the first NIH-supported center dedicated to studies in women’s health. In addition, the school’s dean, Dr. Marla Salmon, is a member of NINR’s advisory council and senior editor of the award-winning book, NURSE: A World of Care.
Grady’s presentation, “Research and Practice: A Translational Imperative,” explored the myriad ways that NINR-supported research has contributed to clinical practice. As one example, she cited a recent NINR-funded study published by UW nurse scientist Dr. Pamela Mitchell. Mitchell and her team found that a brief, nurse-led psychosocial intervention for stroke survivors helped to reduce post-stroke depression, a common occurrence that often impairs the recovery and rehabilitation of stroke patients.
Grady noted that translational research was often initially portrayed as linear and orderly—moving research findings from the lab to the clinic to populations. In actuality, though, it is a living and dynamic process, branching off in multiple directions, incorporating additional steps of research dissemination and evaluation of outcomes and affecting policy, practice and economics. Still, the goal remains the same—to improve human health.
Scientists and clinicians both benefit from collaborations that broaden and accelerate translational research. As Grady stated, “A key to advancing translational health science is the expansion and enhancement of collaborative team science that draws scientists and other professionals together around a common theme or challenge.”—Ray Bingham.