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Exciting new technologies for assessing markers in human specimens are now available to evaluate unprecedented types and numbers of variations in DNA, RNA, proteins, or biological structures such as chromosomes. These markers, whether viewed individually, or collectively as a 'signature', have the potential to be useful for disease risk assessment, screening, early detection, prognosis, therapy selection, and monitoring for therapy effectiveness or disease recurrence. Successful translation from basic research findings to clinically useful test requires basic, translational, and regulatory sciences and a collaborative effort among individuals with varied types of expertise including laboratory scientists, technology developers, clinicians, statisticians, and bioinformaticians. The focus of this commentary is the many statistical challenges in translational marker research, specifically in the development and validation of marker-based tests that have clinical utility for therapeutic decision-making.