The promise of science lies in expectations of its benefits to societies and is matched by expectations of the realisation of the significant public investment in that science. In this paper, we undertake a methodological analysis of the science of biobanking and a sociological analysis of translational research in relation to biobanking. Part of global and local endeavours to translate raw biomedical evidence into practice, biobanks aim to provide a platform for generating new scientific knowledge to inform development of new policies, systems and interventions to enhance the public’s health. Effectively translating scientific knowledge into routine practice, however, involves more than good science. Although biobanks undoubtedly provide a fundamental resource for both clinical and public health practice, their potentiating ontology—that their outputs are perpetually a promise of scientific knowledge generation—renders translation rather less straightforward than drug discovery and treatment implementation. Biobanking science, therefore, provides a perfect counterpoint against which to test the bounds of translational research. We argue that translational research is a contextual and cumulative process: one that is necessarily dynamic and interactive and involves multiple actors. We propose a new multidimensional model of translational research which enables us to imagine a new paradigm: one that takes us from bench to bedside to backyard and beyond, that is, attentive to the social and political context of translational science, and is cognisant of all the players in that process be they researchers, health professionals, policy makers, industry representatives, members of the public or research participants, amongst others.
Currently, autism cannot be reliably diagnosed before the age of 2 years, which is why longitudinal studies of high-risk populations provide the potential to generate unique knowledge about the development of autism during infancy and toddlerhood prior to symptom onset. Early autism research is an evolving field in child psychiatric science. Key objectives are fine mapping of neurodevelopmental trajectories and identifying biomarkers to improve risk assessment, diagnosis and treatment. ESSEA (Enhancing the Scientific Study of Early Autism) is a COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action striving to create a European collaboration to enhance the progress of the discovery and treatment of the earliest signs of autism, and to establish European practice guidelines on early identification and intervention by bringing together European expertise from cognitive neuroscience and clinical sciences. The objective of this article is to clarify the state of current European research on at-risk autism research, and to support the understanding of different contexts in which the research is being conducted. We present ESSEA survey data on ongoing European high-risk ASD studies, as well as perceived challenges and opportunities in this field of research. We conclude that although high-risk autism research in Europe faces several challenges, the existence of several key factors (e.g., new and/or large-scale autism grants, availability of new technologies, and involvement of experienced research groups) lead us to expect substantial scientific and clinical developments in Europe in this field during the next few years.
Autism; Europe; Diagnosis; Technology; Infants; High-risk
The past decade has witnessed the modern advances of high-throughput technology and rapid growth of research capacity in producing large-scale biological data, both of which were concomitant with an exponential growth of biomedical literature. This wealth of scholarly knowledge is of significant importance for researchers in making scientific discoveries and healthcare professionals in managing health-related matters. However, the acquisition of such information is becoming increasingly difficult due to its large volume and rapid growth. In response, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) is continuously making changes to its PubMed Web service for improvement. Meanwhile, different entities have devoted themselves to developing Web tools for helping users quickly and efficiently search and retrieve relevant publications. These practices, together with maturity in the field of text mining, have led to an increase in the number and quality of various Web tools that provide comparable literature search service to PubMed. In this study, we review 28 such tools, highlight their respective innovations, compare them to the PubMed system and one another, and discuss directions for future development. Furthermore, we have built a website dedicated to tracking existing systems and future advances in the field of biomedical literature search. Taken together, our work serves information seekers in choosing tools for their needs and service providers and developers in keeping current in the field.
Database URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/CBBresearch/Lu/search
Healthcare is a complex adaptive system, and efforts to improve through the implementation of best practice are well served by various interacting disciplines within the system. As a transdisciplinary model is new to clinicians, an infrastructure that creates academic-practice partnerships and builds capacity for scientific collaboration is necessary to test, spread, and implement improvement strategies. This paper describes the adoption of best practices from the science of team science in a healthcare improvement research network and the impact on conducting a large-scale network study. Key components of the research network infrastructure were mapped to a team science framework and evaluated in terms of their effectiveness and impact on a national study of nursing operations. Results from this study revealed an effective integration of the team science principles which facilitated the rapid collection of a large dataset. Implications of this study support a collaborative model for improvement research and stress a need for future research and funding to further evaluate the impact on dissemination and implementation.
Embracing comparative biology, natural history encompasses those sciences that discover, decipher and classify unique (idiographic) details of landscapes, and extinct and extant biodiversity. Intrinsic to these multifarious roles in expanding and consolidating research and knowledge, natural history endows keystone support to the veracity of law-like (nomothetic) generalizations in science. What science knows about the natural world is governed by an inherent function of idiographic discovery; characteristic of natural history, this relationship is exemplified wherever an idiographic discovery overturns established wisdom. This nature of natural history explicates why inventories are of such epistemological importance. Unfortunately, a Denigration of Natural History weakens contemporary science from within. It expresses in the prevalent, pervasive failure to appreciate this pivotal role of idiographic research: a widespread disrespect for how natural history undergirds scientific knowledge. Symptoms of this Denigration of Natural History present in negative impacts on scientific research and knowledge. One symptom is the failure to appreciate and support the inventory and monitoring of biodiversity. Another resides in failures of scientiometrics to quantify how taxonomic publications sustain and improve knowledge. Their relevance in contemporary science characteristically persists and grows; so the temporal eminence of these idiographic publications extends over decades. This is because they propagate a succession of derived scientific statements, findings and/or conclusions - inherently shorter-lived, nomothetic publications. Widespread neglect of natural science collections is equally pernicious, allied with disregard for epistemological functions of specimens, whose preservation maintains the veracity of knowledge. Last, but not least, the decline in taxonomic expertise weakens research capacity; there are insufficient skills to study organismal diversity in all of its intricacies. Beyond weakening research capacities and outputs across comparative biology, this Denigration of Natural History impacts on the integrity of knowledge itself, undermining progress and pedagogy throughout science. Unprecedented advances in knowledge are set to follow on consummate inventories of biodiversity, including the protists. These opportunities challenge us to survey biodiversity representatively—detailing the natural history of species. Research strategies cannot continue to ignore arguments for such an unprecedented investment in idiographic natural history. Idiographic shortcuts to general (nomothetic) insights simply do not exist. The biodiversity sciences face a stark choice. No matter how charismatic its portrayed species, an incomplete ‘Brochure of Life’ cannot match the scientific integrity of the ‘Encyclopedia of Life’.
Biodiversity knowledge; Denigration of natural history; Taxonomic inventories; Idiographic and nomothetic science; Genomics; Microbosphere; Tentelic specimens; Scientiometrics
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has defined knowledge translation (KT) as a dynamic and iterative process that includes the synthesis, dissemination, exchange, and ethically-sound application of knowledge to improve the health of Canadians, provide more effective health services and products, and strengthen the healthcare system. CIHR, the national health research funding agency in Canada, has undertaken to advance this concept through direct research funding opportunities in KT. Because CIHR is recognized within Canada and internationally for leading and funding the advancement of KT science and practice, it is essential and timely to evaluate this intervention, and specifically, these funding opportunities.
The study will employ a novel method of participatory, utilization-focused evaluation inspired by the principles of integrated KT. It will use a mixed methods approach, drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data, and will elicit participation from CIHR funded researchers, knowledge users, KT experts, as well as other health research funding agencies. Lines of inquiry will include an international environmental scan, document/data reviews, in-depth interviews, targeted surveys, case studies, and an expert review panel. The study will investigate how efficiently and effectively the CIHR model of KT funding programs operates, what immediate outcomes these funding mechanisms have produced, and what impact these programs have had on the broader state of health research, health research uptake, and health improvement.
The protocol and results of this evaluation will be of interest to those engaged in the theory, practice, and evaluation of KT. The dissemination of the study protocol and results to both practitioners and theorists will help to fill a gap in knowledge in three areas: the role of a public research funding agency in facilitating KT, the outcomes and impacts KT funding interventions, and how KT can best be evaluated.
The interface of engineering and medicine is one of the most productive and promising areas with respect to the future of healthcare here in the US as well as worldwide. However, the scale and complexity of today's biomedical and biological engineering research problems increasingly demand that researchers move beyond the confines of their own discipline and explore new organizational models for team science. While the breadth of knowledge in life and engineering sciences has grown exponentially, technology has become increasingly complex for these different scales. At the same time, the business of delivering sustainable, high-quality health care has become increasingly challenging and expensive. Creating new, cost-effective medicines and healthcare systems that both empower and improve patient care requires a collaborative approach across disciplines. The convergence of Life Sciences and Engineering opens the door to such new possibilities. I will provide specific personal examples involving glycomics, nanotechnology and team science of such possibilities in my talk.
Increasing public interest in science information in a digital and 2.0 science era promotes a dramatically, rapid and deep change in science itself. The emergence and expansion of new technologies and internet-based tools is leading to new means to improve scientific methodology and communication, assessment, promotion and certification. It allows methods of acquisition, manipulation and storage, generating vast quantities of data that can further facilitate the research process. It also improves access to scientific results through information sharing and discussion. Content previously restricted only to specialists is now available to a wider audience. This context requires new management systems to make scientific knowledge more accessible and useable, including new measures to evaluate the reach of scientific information. The new science and research quality measures are strongly related to the new online technologies and services based in social media. Tools such as blogs, social bookmarks and online reference managers, Twitter and others offer alternative, transparent and more comprehensive information about the active interest, usage and reach of scientific publications. Another of these new filters is the Research Blogging platform, which was created in 2007 and now has over 1,230 active blogs, with over 26,960 entries posted about peer-reviewed research on subjects ranging from Anthropology to Zoology. This study takes a closer look at RB, in order to get insights into its contribution to the rapidly changing landscape of scientific communication.
Continuing challenges to timely adoption of evidence-based clinical practices in healthcare have generated intense interest in the development and application of new implementation methods and frameworks. These challenges led the United States (U.S.) Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create the Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) in the late 1990s. QUERI's purpose was to harness VA's health services research expertise and resources in an ongoing system-wide effort to improve the performance of the VA healthcare system and, thus, quality of care for veterans. QUERI in turn created a systematic means of involving VA researchers both in enhancing VA healthcare quality, by implementing evidence-based practices, and in contributing to the continuing development of implementation science.
The efforts of VA researchers to improve healthcare delivery practices through QUERI and related initiatives are documented in a growing body of literature. The scientific frameworks and methodological approaches developed and employed by QUERI are less well described. A QUERI Series of articles in Implementation Science will illustrate many of these QUERI tools. This Overview article introduces both QUERI and the Series.
The Overview briefly explains the purpose and context of the QUERI Program. It then describes the following: the key operational structure of QUERI Centers, guiding frameworks designed to enhance implementation and related research, QUERI's progress and promise to date, and the Series' general content. QUERI's frameworks include a core set of steps for diagnosing and closing quality gaps and, simultaneously, advancing implementation science. Throughout the paper, the envisioned involvement and activities of VA researchers within QUERI Centers also are highlighted. The Series is then described, illustrating the use of QUERI frameworks and other tools designed to respond to implementation challenges.
QUERI's simultaneous pursuit of improvement and research goals within a large healthcare system may be unique. However, descriptions of this still-evolving effort, including its conceptual frameworks, methodological approaches, and enabling processes, should have applicability to implementation researchers in a range of health care settings. Thus, the Series is offered as a resource for other implementation research programs and researchers pursuing common goals in improving care and developing the field of implementation science.
This commentary describes how the Brazilian Ministry of Health's (MoH) research support policy fulfilled the National Agenda of Priorities in Health Research (NAPHR). In 2003, the MoH started a democratic process in order to establish a priority agenda in health research involving investigators, health managers and community leaders. The Agenda was launched in 2004 and is guiding budget allocations in an attempt to reduce the gap between scientific knowledge and health practice and activities, aiming to contribute to improving Brazilian quality of life. Many strategies were developed, for instance: Cooperation Agreements between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology; the decentralization of research support at state levels with the participation of local Health Secretariats and Science and Technology Institutions; Health Technology Assessment; innovation in neglected diseases; research networks and multicenter studies in adult, women's and children's health; cardiovascular risk in adolescents; clinical research and stem cell therapy. The budget allocated by the Ministry of Health and partners was expressive: US$419 million to support almost 3,600 projects. The three sub-agenda with the higher proportion of resources were "industrial health complex", "clinical research" and "communicable diseases", which are considered strategic for innovation and national development. The Southeast region conducted 40.5% of all projects and detained 59.7% of the resources, attributable to the concentration of the most traditional health research institutes and universities in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The second most granted region was the Northeast, which reflects the result of a governmental policy to integrate and modernize this densely populated area and the poorest region in the country. Although Brazil began the design and implementation of the NAPHR in 2003, it has done so in accordance with the 'good practice principles' recently published: inclusive process, information gathering, careful planning and funding policy, transparency and internal evaluation (an external independent evaluation is underway). The effort in guiding the health research policy has achieved and legitimated an unprecedented developmental spurt to support strategic health research. We believe this experience is valuable and applicable to other countries, but different settings and local political circumstances will determine the best course of action to follow.
Communities of Practice (CoPs) are promoted in the healthcare sector as a means of generating and sharing knowledge and improving organisational performance. However CoPs vary considerably in the way they are structured and operate in the sector. If CoPs are to be cultivated to benefit healthcare organisations, there is a need to examine and understand their application to date. To this end, a systematic review of the literature on CoPs was conducted, to examine how and why CoPs have been established and whether they have been shown to improve healthcare practice.
Peer-reviewed empirical research papers on CoPs in the healthcare sector were identified by searching electronic health-databases. Information on the purpose of establishing CoPs, their composition, methods by which members communicate and share information or knowledge, and research methods used to examine effectiveness was extracted and reviewed. Also examined was evidence of whether or not CoPs led to a change in healthcare practice.
Thirty-one primary research papers and two systematic reviews were identified and reviewed in detail. There was a trend from descriptive to evaluative research. The focus of CoPs in earlier publications was on learning and exchanging information and knowledge, whereas in more recently published research, CoPs were used more as a tool to improve clinical practice and to facilitate the implementation of evidence-based practice. Means by which members communicated with each other varied, but in none of the primary research studies was the method of communication examined in terms of the CoP achieving its objectives. Researchers are increasing their efforts to assess the effectiveness of CoPs in healthcare, however the interventions have been complex and multifaceted, making it difficult to directly attribute the change to the CoP.
In keeping with Wenger and colleagues' description, CoPs in the healthcare sector vary in form and purpose. While researchers are increasing their efforts to examine the impact of CoPs in healthcare, cultivating CoPs to improve healthcare performance requires a greater understanding of how to establish and support CoPs to maximise their potential to improve healthcare.
The objective of this study is to conduct a systematic review of applications of data-mining techniques in the field of diabetes research.
We searched the MEDLINE database through PubMed. We initially identified 31 articles by the search, and selected 17 articles representing various data-mining methods used for diabetes research. Our main interest was to identify research goals, diabetes types, data sets, data-mining methods, data-mining software and technologies, and outcomes.
The applications of data-mining techniques in the selected articles were useful for extracting valuable knowledge and generating new hypothesis for further scientific research/experimentation and improving health care for diabetes patients. The results could be used for both scientific research and real-life practice to improve the quality of health care diabetes patients.
Data mining has played an important role in diabetes research. Data mining would be a valuable asset for diabetes researchers because it can unearth hidden knowledge from a huge amount of diabetes-related data. We believe that data mining can significantly help diabetes research and ultimately improve the quality of health care for diabetes patients.
blood glucose level; classification; data mining; diabetes mellitus; feature selection; systematic review
In this editorial, we reflect on the arguments for starting a scientific society focused on research on how to improve healthcare. This society would take an inclusive approach to what constitutes healthcare. For instance, it should include mental health healthcare, treatment for substance abuse, the work of allied health professions, and preventive healthcare. The society would be open to researchers from all traditions. Thus, we take an inclusive approach to what constitutes scientific research, as long as it uses rigorous methods, is focused on improving healthcare, and aims at knowledge that can be transferred across settings. The society would primarily target scientific researchers but would invite others with an interest in this area of research, regardless of their discipline, position, field of application, or group affiliation (e.g., improvement science, behavioral medicine, knowledge translation). A society would need fruitful collaboration with related societies and organizations, which may include having combined meetings. Special links may be developed with one or more journals. A website to provide information on relevant resources, events, and training opportunities is another key activity. It would also provide a voice for the field at funding agencies, political arenas, and similar institutions. An organizational structure and financial resources are required to develop and run these activities. Our aim is to start an international debate, to discover if we can establish a shared vision across academics and stakeholders engaged with creating scientific knowledge on how to improve healthcare. We invite readers to express their views in the online questionnaire accessed by following the URL link provided at the end of the editorial.
The widespread adoption of high-throughput next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology among the Australian life science research community is highlighting an urgent need to up-skill biologists in tools required for handling and analysing their NGS data. There is currently a shortage of cutting-edge bioinformatics training courses in Australia as a consequence of a scarcity of skilled trainers with time and funding to develop and deliver training courses. To address this, a consortium of Australian research organizations, including Bioplatforms Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Australian Bioinformatics Network, have been collaborating with EMBL-EBI training team. A group of Australian bioinformaticians attended the train-the-trainer workshop to improve training skills in developing and delivering bioinformatics workshop curriculum. A 2-day NGS workshop was jointly developed to provide hands-on knowledge and understanding of typical NGS data analysis workflows. The road show–style workshop was successfully delivered at five geographically distant venues in Australia using the newly established Australian NeCTAR Research Cloud. We highlight the challenges we had to overcome at different stages from design to delivery, including the establishment of an Australian bioinformatics training network and the computing infrastructure and resource development. A virtual machine image, workshop materials and scripts for configuring a machine with workshop contents have all been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. This means participants continue to have convenient access to an environment they had become familiar and bioinformatics trainers are able to access and reuse these resources.
training; next-generation sequencing; NGS; cloud; workshop
Personalized healthcare holds the promise of ensuring that every patient receives optimal wellness promotion and clinical care based upon his or her unique and multi-factorial phenotype, informed by the most up-to-date and contextually relevant science. However, achieving this vision requires the management, analysis, and delivery of complex data, information, and knowledge. While there are well-established frameworks that serve to inform the pursuit of basic science, clinical, and translational research in support of the operationalization of the personalized healthcare paradigm, equivalent constructs that may enable biomedical informatics innovation and practice aligned with such objectives are noticeably sparse. In response to this gap in knowledge, we propose such a framework for the advancement of biomedical informatics in order to address the fundamental information needs of the personalized healthcare domain. This framework, which we refer to as a “4I” approach, emphasizes the pursuit of research and practice that is information-centric, integrative, interactive, and innovative.
Individualized Medicine; Informatics; Organization & Administration
Exposure of biological cells to a sufficiently strong external electric field results in increased permeability of cell membranes, referred to as “electroporation.” Since all types of cells (animal, plant and microorganism) can be effectively electroporated, electroporation is considered to be a universal method and a platform technology. Electroporation has become a widely used technology applicable to, e.g., cancer treatment, gene transfection, food and biomass processing and microbial inactivation. However, despite significant progress in electroporation-based applications, there is a lack of coordination and interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge between researchers from different scientific domains. Thus, critical mass for new major breakthroughs is missing. This is why we decided to establish cooperation between research groups working in different fields of electroporation. Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), which funds networking and capacity-building activities, presents a perfect framework for such scientific cooperation. This COST action aims at (1) providing necessary steps toward EU cooperation of science and technology to foster basic understanding of electroporation; (2) improving communication between research groups, resulting in streamlining European research and development activities; and (3) enabling development of new and further development of existing electroporation-based applications by integrating multidisciplinary research teams, as well as providing comprehensive training for early-stage researchers. Results of this COST action will provide multiple societal, scientific and technological benefits from improving existing electroporation-based applications to adding new ones in the fields of medicine, biotechnology and environmental preservation.
Electroporation; Cancer treatment; Pulsed electric field; Microbial inactivation; Food processing and preservation; Electrochemotherapy
The methods for healthcare reform are strikingly underdeveloped, with much reliance on political power. A methodology that combined methods from sources such as clinical trials, experience-based wisdom, and improvement science could be among the aims of the upcoming work in the USA on comparative effectiveness and on the agenda of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Those working in quality improvement have an unusual opportunity to generate substantial input into these processes through professional organisations such as the Academy for Healthcare Improvement and dominant leadership organisations such as the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
Public policy; quality improvement; comparative effectiveness research; continuous quality improvement; health policy; leadership; randomised controlled trial; research
Implementation science is the scientific study of methods to promote the integration of research findings and evidence-based interventions into healthcare policy and practice and, hence, to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services and care. Implementation science is distinguished from monitoring and evaluation by its emphasis on the use of the scientific method. The origins of implementation science include operations research, industrial engineering, and management science. Today, implementation science encompasses a broader range of methods and skills including decision science and operations research, health systems research, health outcomes research, health and behavioral economics, epidemiology, statistics, organization and management science, finance, policy analysis, anthropology, sociology, and ethics. Examples of implementation science research are presented for HIV prevention (prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, male circumcision) and HIV and drug use (syringe distribution, treating drug users with antiretroviral therapy (ART) and opioid substitution therapy). For implementation science to become an established field in HIV/AIDS research, there needs to be better coordination between funders of research and funders of program delivery and greater consensus on scientific research approaches and standards of evidence.
The development and improvement of cardiopulmonary bypass technology is an ongoing process. During the past decade, a number of publications on improvements and best practices have appeared, especially in the areas of biocompatibility, materials sciences, instrumentation, monitoring of physiological parameters and knowledge base (education and evidence-based medicine). Biocompatibility may be defined not only as an inherent property of a particular composition of matter, but also as a set of properties concerning shape, finish, fabrication techniques and choice of application. Materials in use for cardiopulmonary bypass have changed and coated components have been used frequently. Improvements in the area of instrumentation were achieved by adaptation of conventional cardiopulmonary bypass circuits. Miniaturization and re-design of cardiopulmonary bypass circuits (so-called minimized perfusion circuits or minimal extracorporeal circulation circuits) have made cardiopulmonary bypass technology less traumatic. A team approach, including the cardiac surgeon, the anesthesiologist and the cardiovascular perfusionist, was deemed beneficial in order to achieve further improvements. Next to choice of technology and material for a given operation, adjunct measures such as pharmaceutical treatment and blood conservation strategies need to be taken into consideration. Monitoring of variables during cardiopulmonary bypass has made some progress, while the knowledge base has expanded due to studies on best practices. For the immediate future, sound scientific knowledge and intelligent monitoring tools will allow cardiopulmonary bypass to be tailored to individual patients’ needs.
cardiopulmonary bypass; extracorporeal circulation; biocompatibility; minimized perfusion circuit; systemic inflammatory response
Shared decision making (SDM) is a process by which a healthcare choice is made jointly by the healthcare professional and the patient. SDM is the essential element of patient-centered care, a core concept of primary care. However, SDM is seldom translated into primary practice. Continuing professional development (CPD) is the principal means by which healthcare professionals continue to gain, improve, and broaden the knowledge and skills required for patient-centered care. Our international collaboration seeks to improve the knowledge base of CPD that targets translating SDM into the clinical practice of primary care in diverse healthcare systems.
Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), our project is to form an international, interdisciplinary research team composed of health services researchers, physicians, nurses, psychologists, dietitians, CPD decision makers and others who will study how CPD causes SDM to be practiced in primary care. We will perform an environmental scan to create an inventory of CPD programs and related activities for translating SDM into clinical practice. These programs will be critically assessed and compared according to their strengths and limitations. We will use the empirical data that results from the environmental scan and the critical appraisal to identify knowledge gaps and generate a research agenda during a two-day workshop to be held in Quebec City. We will ask CPD stakeholders to validate these knowledge gaps and the research agenda.
This project will analyse existing CPD programs and related activities for translating SDM into the practice of primary care. Because this international collaboration will develop and identify various factors influencing SDM, the project could shed new light on how SDM is implemented in primary care.
During the past several decades, philosophers of science and scientists themselves have become increasingly aware of the complex ways in which scientific knowledge is shaped by its social context. This awareness has called into question traditional notions of objectivity. Working scientists need an understanding of their own practice that avoids the naïve myth that science can become objective by avoiding social influences as well as the reductionist view that its content is determined simply by economic interests. A nuanced perspective on this process can improve research ethics and increase the capacity of science to contribute to equitable public policy, especially in areas such as environmental and occupational health, which have direct implications for profits, regulation, legal responsibility, and social justice. I discuss research into health effects of the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, as an example of how scientific explanations are shaped by social concepts, norms, and preconceptions. I describe how a scientific practice that developed under the influence of medical and nuclear physics interacted with observations made by exposed community members to affect research questions, the interpretation of evidence, inferences about biological mechanisms in disease causation, and the use of evidence in litigation. By considering the history and philosophy of their disciplines, practicing researchers can increase the rigor, objectivity, and social responsibility of environmental health science.
Knowledge Translation (KT) has historically focused on the proper use of knowledge in healthcare delivery. A knowledge base has been created through empirical research and resides in scholarly literature. Some knowledge is amenable to direct application by stakeholders who are engaged during or after the research process, as shown by the Knowledge to Action (KTA) model. Other knowledge requires multiple transformations before achieving utility for end users. For example, conceptual knowledge generated through science or engineering may become embodied as a technology-based invention through development methods. The invention may then be integrated within an innovative device or service through production methods. To what extent is KT relevant to these transformations? How might the KTA model accommodate these additional development and production activities while preserving the KT concepts?
Stakeholders adopt and use knowledge that has perceived utility, such as a solution to a problem. Achieving a technology-based solution involves three methods that generate knowledge in three states, analogous to the three classic states of matter. Research activity generates discoveries that are intangible and highly malleable like a gas; development activity transforms discoveries into inventions that are moderately tangible yet still malleable like a liquid; and production activity transforms inventions into innovations that are tangible and immutable like a solid. The paper demonstrates how the KTA model can accommodate all three types of activity and address all three states of knowledge. Linking the three activities in one model also illustrates the importance of engaging the relevant stakeholders prior to initiating any knowledge-related activities.
Science and engineering focused on technology-based devices or services change the state of knowledge through three successive activities. Achieving knowledge implementation requires methods that accommodate these three activities and knowledge states. Accomplishing beneficial societal impacts from technology-based knowledge involves the successful progression through all three activities, and the effective communication of each successive knowledge state to the relevant stakeholders. The KTA model appears suitable for structuring and linking these processes.
The NIDCR-supported Practice-based Research Network initiative presents dentistry with an unprecedented opportunity by providing a pathway for modifying and advancing the profession. It encourages practitioner participation in the transfer of science into practice for the improvement of patient care. PBRNs vary in infrastructure and design, and sustaining themselves in the long term may involve clinical trial validation by regulatory agencies. This paper discusses the PBRN concept in general and uses the New York University College of Dentistry’s Practitioners Engaged in Applied Research and Learning (PEARL) Network as a model to improve patient outcomes. The PEARL Network is structured to ensure generalizability of results, data integrity, and to provide an infrastructure in which scientists can address clinical practitioner research interests. PEARL evaluates new technologies, conducts comparative effectiveness research, participates in multidisciplinary clinical studies, helps evaluate alternative models of healthcare, educates and trains future clinical faculty for academic positions, expands continuing education to include “benchmarking” as a form of continuous feedback to practitioners, adds value to dental schools’ educational programs, and collaborates with the oral health care and pharmaceutical industries and medical PBRNs to advance the dental profession and further the integration of dental research and practice into contemporary healthcare (NCT00867997, NCT01268605).
Practice-based Research Network; good clinical practice; clinical studies; patient-reported outcomes; Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER); Evidence-based Dentistry (EBD)
Multi-disciplinary and multi-site biomedical research programs frequently require infrastructures capable of enabling the collection, management, analysis, and dissemination of heterogeneous, multi-dimensional, and distributed data and knowledge collections spanning organizational boundaries. We report on the design and initial deployment of an extensible biomedical informatics platform that is intended to address such requirements.
A common approach to distributed data, information, and knowledge management needs in the healthcare and life science settings is the deployment and use of a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Such SOA technologies provide for strongly-typed, semantically annotated, and stateful data and analytical services that can be combined into data and knowledge integration and analysis “pipelines.” Using this overall design pattern, we have implemented and evaluated an extensible SOA platform for clinical and translational science applications known as the Translational Research Informatics and Data-management grid (TRIAD). TRIAD is a derivative and extension of the caGrid middleware and has an emphasis on supporting agile “working interoperability” between data, information, and knowledge resources.
Based upon initial verification and validation studies conducted in the context of a collection of driving clinical and translational research problems, we have been able to demonstrate that TRIAD achieves agile “working interoperability” between distributed data and knowledge sources.
Informed by our initial verification and validation studies, we believe TRIAD provides an example instance of a lightweight and readily adoptable approach to the use of SOA technologies in the clinical and translational research setting. Furthermore, our initial use cases illustrate the importance and efficacy of enabling “working interoperability” in heterogeneous biomedical environments.
Clinical research informatics; data access; data integration; data analysis; standards; workflow; socio-organizational issues
Accelerating the translation of new scientific discoveries to improve human health and disease management is the overall goal of a series of initiatives integrated in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “Roadmap for Medical Research.” The Clinical and Translational Research Award (CTSA) program is, arguably, the most visible component of the NIH Roadmap providing resources to institutions to transform their clinical and translational research enterprises along the goals of the Roadmap. The CTSA program emphasizes biomedical informatics as a critical component for the accomplishment of the NIH’s translational objectives. To be optimally effective, emerging biomedical informatics programs must link with the information technology (IT) platforms of the enterprise clinical operations within academic health centers.
This report details one academic health center’s transdisciplinary initiative to create an integrated academic discipline of biomedical informatics through the development of its infrastructure for clinical and translational science infrastructure and response to the CTSA mechanism. This approach required a detailed informatics strategy to accomplish these goals. This transdisciplinary initiative was the impetus for creation of a specialized biomedical informatics core, the Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBI). Development of the CBI codified the need to incorporate medical informatics including quality and safety informatics and enterprise clinical information systems within the CBI. This paper describes the steps taken to develop the biomedical informatics infrastructure, its integration with clinical systems at one academic health center, successes achieved, and barriers encountered during these efforts.
CTSA; information technology clinical and translational research; biomedical informatics