Apologies for the delay in reporting from the Summer School, but here’s our round up of what happened, starting with Day One…
The slow rate at which innovations in bioscience are implemented into practice is an ongoing matter of concern for science, policy makers and funders of research. The concept of ‘Translational Research’ aims to ‘accelerate’ or ‘speed up’ the process of moving basic science discoveries into the clinic.
With this in mind, ten PhD students and early stage researchers signed up to the Challenge of Translational Research Summer School, designed to inform, challenge and provoke consideration and engagement with the social, cultural, organisational and structural issues pertaining to translational research.
The summer school opened with Professor Charles Wolfe outlining the Biomedical Research Centre’s involvement and relationship to translational research. Challenges posed by Charles included: the need to develop new business models to reinvest profit and the particular challenge of doing this within a culture not traditionally associated with revenue generation; and the cultural shift required to ensure that everyone is on board with the translational research agenda and that research is essential for an innovative NHS.
Next on the agenda was a stimulating tour of the MRC Centre for Transplantation led by Dr Maria Hernandez-Fuentes and her student Manohursingh Runglall. They gave a candid talk about laboratory life. As we moved around the laboratories, being introduced to the latest technology for anlaysing specimens, this raised the question, and challenge, of how technology has changed laboratory research practices.
Our laboratory visit was followed by Dr Claire Marris’ essential introduction to critical perspectives on translational research. Conceptualising translational research as a performative discourse, rather than as a category of research, enables consideration of the concept from a number of perspectives including, but not limited to, science and technology studies, boundary objects, the sociology of expectations, and governmentality.
Dr Catherine French gave us a fascinating insight into her ethnographic research on Academic Health Science Centres. Catherine’s work focused on the challenges of bringing together large bureaucratic organisations – university and NHS partners – with the aim to ensure that breakthroughs in medical research lead to direct clinical benefits for patients.
We closed the day with an interactive session given by Joseph Harrington from the Innovation Unit. Using principles of Service Design, we explored new approaches to tackling the Antibiotic Apocalypse.