T3/T4 Population Sciences Research
Traditionally, most translational research has focused on basic bench science or moving research from the bench to the bedside. Two decades ago, the key obstacle was the lack of understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying carcinogenesis. A decade ago the obstacle was a lack of treatment strategies with proven efficacy. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved more cancer treatments since 2010 than in all the years since it was established.
Now that cancer biology is better understood and that there are more treatments with proven efficacy, there is an acute need to translate treatments from research settings (T2) to routine care contexts (T3) and then to scrutinize whether they have actually been adopted, are sustainable and achieving their intended impact in the population more broadly (T4).
There is growing recognition, highlighted in the recent Institute of Medicine report on cancer care quality that specific skills are required to conduct translational research at the T3 and T4 stages. The core questions asked by investigators at each stage interrelate yet are distinct.
Because of the evolutionary history of cancer research, there is a dearth of training programs focused on preparing investigators for research at the T3 and T4 stages--this is where TOPS comes in. Our ultimate goal is to prepare a cadre of cancer focused investigators to accelerate the knowledge translation cycle.
We use the umbrella term “population science” to refer to research at the T3 and T4 phases of the translational research cycle.