• Open Access

CTS: A New Discipline to Catalyze the Transfer of Information


Forty years ago, the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine first used the term “bench-bedside interface” to describe the diffusion of information that needed to occur between the clinical arena and the basic science laboratories assessing the biochemical, morphologic, and genetic phenomenon that characterized the phagocytic process in patients with chronic granulomatous disease.1 This concept of “translating” novel discoveries found at the laboratory bench into the clinical investigation of new technologies and methodologies to both diagnose and treat human disease at the bedside gained increasing focus over the past decade as an explosion of innovative technology supported scientific advances in numerous fields, including genomics, proteomics, gene transfer, stem cell biology, structural biology, and imaging. As these new fields of biology leapt onto the scientific stage, scientists became increasingly aware that the road from the bench to the bedside was not a single lane roadway, but rather a multilane highway that could be traversed in either direction. Indeed, some of the most important discoveries of the past decade have come from observations that were made by investigators in the clinical arena that then stimulated research at the laboratory bench. It was this recognition of the need for a bidirectional linkage between the bench and the bedside that led to the development of a new moniker for this type of research: clinical and translational science.

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Our mission will be to help define the field by providing a multidisciplinary format for publishing exciting and innovative new work

—Arthur M. Feldman, MD, PhD

Despite the intriguing possibilities for facilitating the discovery of new treatments for human disease, the field of clinical and translational science has not moved forward without impediments. Indeed, Stewart Wolf first pointed out that “partitioning of the activities and interests of investigators together with a rapid proliferation of specialty meetings and journals” as well as the “lack of understanding of the new knowledge and the failure to appreciate its broad implication” effectively created a gap between the bench and the bedside.2 Furthermore, a variety of impediments, including the increasing complexity of science, the traditional silo structure of academia, the need to integrate clinical and translational science across multiple departments and schools, the increasing barriers to performing clinical research, and a paucity of well-trained multi- and inter-disciplinary investigative teams, have limited the ability of translational researchers to effectively apply new knowledge and techniques to clinical practice. To address the global need to increase the efficiency and expediency of clinical and translational research and to develop multidisciplinary platforms, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiated the development of the “Clinical and Translational Science Award” program as part of its “Roadmap for Medical Research.” By providing support for original research on novel methods and approaches to translational and clinical science, incentives to foster collaborations between departments and schools, opportunities to partner with industry, and resources for training and career development, the NIH will foster the development of innovation and discovery and its early application to the clinic.

A critically important component of the future success of the clinical and translational sciences is the ability to communicate discoveries across the broad areas of research, to educate trainees in the interdisciplinary underpinnings of clinical and translational research, and to bring new knowledge and techniques to the physicians providing patient care. We have created Clinical and Translational Science (CTS) to accomplish these goals. Specifically, our mission will be to help define the field by providing a multidisciplinary format for publishing exciting and innovative new work and a platform for educating and informing the broad array of individuals who are committed to the success of translational medicine. Toward this goal, we have enlisted a large group of distinguished basic scientists and clinical investigators who have enthusiastically agreed to serve as members of our Advisory Board, as Executive Editors or as Associate Editors, and as members of our Editorial Board. These highly qualified individuals will ensure that we provide our readers with superlative manuscripts and insightful editorial comments. Furthermore, both the publisher and the editorial board are committed to providing rigorous but expeditious reviews. Each issue of CTS will contain full-length manuscripts providing comprehensive detail of a significant new finding. However, important discoveries in translational science often lend themselves to a more concise report. Therefore, each issue will also include Communications (2,500 words) and Brief Reports (1,500 words). In view of the need for rapid timelines in reporting new discoveries in translational and clinical science, all accepted manuscripts would be available on line within three weeks of acceptance.

Clinical and translational science touches a broad array of individuals in academia, industry, governmental regulatory agencies, and clinical practice—all of whom share a common core mission of enhancing medical care by developing the next generation of pharmaceuticals, devices, and diagnostics. However, each of these individuals approaches biologic or clinical discoveries from a very different knowledge base. Therefore, to help to mold this new collaborative community of clinical and translational investigators as well as to provide an educational foundation for students and trainees, each issue of CTS will also include didactic invited reviews of discrete areas of translational science. In addition, we will provide Editorials and Commentary to help the reader to understand the broad biological implications of new discoveries, to meld information from diverse fields into a cogent conceptual framework, and to integrate basic research into clinical practice. Finally, new scientific communities need a forum for presenting important news and providing an opportunity for a free interchange of thoughts and ideas. CTS will provide such a forum by including News from key stakeholders in the field of the clinical and translational sciences including the NIH, the FDA, and the pharmaceutical and device industries as well as reports or new breakthroughs in research technology. In addition, we will also include Letters to the Editor to allow individuals to comment on their views regarding potentially controversial topics.

Over the past half century new fields of science have evolved—often driven by enormous technologic advances. These new fields have caused established journals to change their names—or have spawned the creation of new journals. For example, in 1962 the Journal of Biophysical and Biochemical Cytology changed its name to the Journal of Cell Biology—a change that was temporally related to the increasing knowledge of the structure of the cell through the use of electron microscopy. More recently, Cell Stem Cell was created to provide a forum for disseminating new information about the rapidly expanding field of stem cell research. In many ways the creation of CTS is also in response to a need for a new and multidisciplinary platform for communication of exciting new discoveries in clinical and translational science. However, both the Publisher and the Editors believe that CTS will become more than just a place to go to find exciting new reports in this rapidly growing field. Rather, we view it as an opportunity to build an interdisciplinary community—both in print and on the Web—where the many diverse participants in clinical and translational science can come together to learn and exchange ideas. It will be our ability to effectively exchange ideas across the many disciplines of science and clinical medicine that will allow investigators to catalyze the application of new scientific knowledge and techniques into new cures for human disease. With the help of our contributors and readers we can fulfill the important goals of this new journal.