In 2011, Dr. Catherine Whiteside, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, asked Dr Avrum Gotlieb, Interim Vice-Dean Graduate Life Science Education (GLSE), to explore graduate education in health sciences translational research. A meeting was held with interested graduate chairs and the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) agreed to provide seed money to develop the proposal and fund the initial required infrastructure including space renovations to create the office and teaching spaces, salaries for faculty and administration, equipment and office supplied. It was decided that a two-year professional graduate master’s program should be developed. The Director of the IMS, Dr Allan Kaplan enlisted Dr. Joseph Ferenbok to develop a draft proposal for a new graduate degree program in translational research in health science. The document included both academic and business plans for the proposed program. After much consultation with stakeholders, including external experts knowledgeable in translational research and co-development with the GLSE, a proposal was put forward for review by the Provost. Following a successful external review and Governing Council support, the proposal was submitted to the government for review and authorization. In November 2014, the Masters of Health Science in Translational Research in Health Science (MHSc) was approved by the Quality Assurance Council of Ontario in the Ministry of Universities, Colleges and Training. The first cohort of 17 students began in September 2015.
The Master’s of Health Science in Translational Research (TRP) is a professional graduate degree program that encourages students to integrate their domain expertise to carry out projects that emphasize experiential learning and translational thinking in order to innovate health and care. The program focuses on breadth (looking at the larger translational landscape), deployment (skills around the implementation of projects and prototypes), and integration (processes around combining individual domain expertise with practical projects and case-studies that emphasize experiential learning). Instead of a thesis, the TRP incorporates a Capstone Project as its main vehicle for experiential learning. The process of reflecting, abstracting from and testing ideas from real-world observations is intended to help students learn to learn–to constantly improve and adapt their thinking and approach to real-world problems as part of their core abilities.
Designated as a professional program, the TRP is designed to help students learn and demonstrate core transferable skills that are foundational across a range of careers. These include being able to:
- Recognize opportunities
- Navigate uncertainty
- Make decisions to manage ambiguity and are able to justify those decisions
- Calculated risks and rationalized choices
- Focus on people & their needs
- Question assumptions
- Communicate clearly and persuasively
- Lead and collaborate effectively
- Learn by doing (abstract knowledge from practice)
- Learn from failure (iterate)
To help students practice and demonstrate the above abilities while augmenting or developing their career trajectories, the TRP is composed of:
- MSC 1000Y: Foundations in Translational Research (1.0 FCE)
- MSC 1002H: Overview of Methods in Practices & Contexts (0.5 FCEs)
- MSC 1003H: Rhetoric of Science (0.5 FCEs)
- MSC 2021Y: Projects in Translational Research (1.0 FCE)
- MSC 4000E: Capstone Project in Translational Research (2.0 FCEs)
- MSC 4010E: Core Modules in Translational Research (2.0 FCEs)
And 1 Full-course equivalent of electives (e.g. two half courses or one full course at a graduate level).
An important value of any professional graduate program are the skills, activities, and lessons that are learned or applied outside the classroom–practicing and applying these skills and competencies are often the significant value-added of a program that contributes to student success. The TRP provides workshops, networking opportunities, a speaker series and various activities that supplement coursework; these are either delivered by the TRP team or in collaboration with other groups and partners. These activities are especially important for generating Capstone collaborations and project ideas but are also significant for understanding the available resources and building communities for professional development opportunities.
Outside the core classroom activities, the TRP also works with students to prepare and execute an Individual Development Plan (IDP). Instituted with the 2016 cohort, the IDP is an important aspect of the programs personalized learning experience. This process allows students to focus on goal setting and self-evaluation involving actions and activities that they self-initiate under the supervision of program faculty.