At SWEHSC, translational research moves scientific ideas across disciplinary boundaries to become closer to achieving real-world benefit to people. The Integrated Health Sciences (IHS) facility core provides technologies and expertise to help researchers translate scientific ideas toward benefitting peoples’ health.
An example translational study might begin with experiments showing how mice chemically transform arsenic. This might be translated to studying humans, who are naturally exposed to arsenic in their drinking water, by how they change arsenic’s chemical form. This is important because we know that some of arsenic’s “changed” chemical forms are actually more toxic than the original arsenic in the water!
A second translational research example considers moving a research project from experiments that study the toxic effects of bisphenol-A in cells grown in culture flasks to studying the endocrine disruption effects of this chemical in mice.
In each case the research moves one step closer to a direct benefit to peoples’ health. These benefits occur by allowing us to understand how environmental stressors work in exposed humans, by giving us ideas of ways to prevent those harmful exposures, by giving us ways to reduce the risk of unavoidable exposures, and by offering government regulators and lawmakers more scientifically informed decisions.
Who is the IHS?
The heart of the IHS is a large group of experienced SWEHSC investigators who believe in sharing their expertise in the many areas of translational research. Expertise is divided into three resource areas (click to see/contact our experts):
- Data Science Resource
- Human Populations and Exposure Resource
- Emerging Contaminants Analytical Resource
What is the IHS goal?
As attractive as translational research sounds, it presents many hurdles to scientists. These can include an increased demand for rigorous statistical help in the design and analysis of a study, increased data management requirements, measuring exposure in environmental and human samples, getting buy-in from key stakeholders in communities affected by environmental exposures, navigating regulatory requirements to ensure high ethical standards and safe treatment of human participants, and many others. Researchers transitioning to a new research area may be discouraged from translational research. The goal of the IHS is to provide expertise and technologies to aid SWEHSC investigators to overcome these obstacles.