March 6, 2015

FAQs

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What exactly is translational research?

  • Translational research is defined as the application of scientific discoveries, clinical insights or policy initiatives into problem-solving designs that enhance human health and well-being. However, definitions can vary widely between disciplines, institutions and experts. [Read more]
  • The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) in the United States NCATS defines Translation as: [the] process of turning observations in the laboratory, clinic and community into interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public….
  • We view translational research as: systematic investigation, study and knowledge production that turns observations in the laboratory, clinic and community into interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public.
  • TR can be seen as the spectrum of innovation in health science encompassing the “P”s” of impact for healthy communities:
    • People – the translation of research from models into humans.
    • Patients/populations – health promotion and solutions for healthier communities.
    • Policy – findings that shape policy in a broad way.
    • Products – the development of products that assist with health care.
    • Processes or procedures – the development of processes or procedures, such as new screening processes for diseases that benefit individual patients and physicians – i.e. diagnostic techniques.
    • Pharmaceuticals– medicinal chemistry and issues of drug delivery.
    • Pathways—the biochemical and genetic sources of variation in disease presentation that underscore concepts of personalized medicine.

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There is no set formula for a letter of Interest (LOI). However, a strong LOI should address the following points:

  • Your expertise/background
  • Demonstrate a practical understanding of Translational Research (TR), or provide an example of a TR problem or project that you might consider for a capstone project
  • What you would like to get out of the program and how it might contribute to your academic and career goals; and
  • What about the unconventionality of program makes it appealing to you compared to other more traditional, thesis-based Master’s program options

Length of the LOI should be 1 to 2 pages / 500 words

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Examples of Capstone Projects include:

  • A research study on how a slight change in oncology protocol may positively impact patient lives;
  • An augmented reality-based patient education tool;
  • A 3D model registration system for surgery;
  • A clinical trial design for testing a small molecule compound;
  • A mobile patient quality assessment research tool.

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  • As this is a professional program, there are no paid stipends.  The program is designed to help students seek support themselves through grants, research opportunities and industry collaborations.
  • There is however an entrance award, based on GPA, for early applicants.

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Yes, there will be support provided for grant writing and navigating the application process. Part of the learning outcome for the program is to find various sources of funding for your projects. Also, grant writing is embedded into the learning outcomes of MSC 1003 the Rhetoric of Science and MSC 4000 the Capstone Project.

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Translational Research is a collaborative activity and students are encouraged to work together to identify medical needs and plan high impact projects that help generate solutions for patients.  Although projects are intended to be collaborative so that we can tackle ‘Big Problems’ together, individual contributions and roles must be clearly defined.  In special cases, with the approval of the Program Committee, some students may work on individual projects where issues of resources, IP, funding or an established research trajectory do not allow for collaboration within the class.

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The Translational Research Program is a full-time professional program, meaning that you may not concurrently take any other graduate program.  Since the TRP is a professional program and does not provide students with a stipend or living allowance, we understand that our students may have other obligations.  We do ask that clinicians in the program secure protected time with their departments to ensure they can attend classes, participate in group and co-curricular activities and have time to complete their capstone projects in a timely fashion.

 

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  • In the first and second term of the program (24 weeks in total) there are officially approximately 9 in class hours per week (though students have often stayed longer).  These are generally between 1 – 8 pm on Tuesdays and 4-7pm on Thursdays.  Modules and electives are in addition to this but they are scheduled separately.
  • In the second year, students are expected to have two regular monthly meetings: one with the Capstone Course Director and the other student teams, and one with their Project Oversight Committee.
  • Though official class time is 9 hours a week, students are also expected to fully participate in group work outside of class time, as well a co-curricular activities that are organized by the program and students.  The co-curricular component of the program (for example: industry site visits, speaker series, and networking events) are key aspects of the program and provide vital non-structured learning opportunities.  These are scheduled throughout the 2 years with advanced notice.
  • As with other Graduate level programs please note that it is generally expected that for every one (1) hour of contact, you can expect to do 2.5 hours of reading and preparation work on your own.

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The program is designed to be flexible and cater to a range of interest and outcomes. The main course in the program, MSC 4010 Core Modules in Translational Research, allows students to take 8 modules on a number of diverse topics and themes.  MSC 2021 and MSC 4000, the Capstone Prep Course and the Capstone Course, allow students to explore and develop project ideas based on the medical needs and individual interests they identify.  Finally, within the 8.0 full course equivalents in the program students are required to select two electives (0.5 FCE each) chosen from any graduate course offered on campus.

 

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  • The paths students take post-graduation depends greatly on where each individual is at in their career when they enter the program. We see at least four pathways of specialization or outputs from the program:
    • Translational Medicine: Individuals involved in investigation (discovery science or clinical research);
    • Translational Science: Individuals interested in helping research solutions to medical needs based in discovery science, but transformed into tangible applications.
    • Knowledge Translation: individuals who want to communicate research to target audiences in order to change practices or policies that improve health outcomes;
    • Implementation Science: individuals who want to study the impact of innovations—transformations of discovery science—on healthcare delivery for evidence-based medicine.
  • The National Center for the Advancement of Translational and Clinical Science has recently identified the needs for a “Translational Science” workforce.  However, there is as yet no official profession of translational science, and many of the programs developed in the area are relatively new.
  • However, professional graduate programs in the United States associated with Translational Science have indicated that graduates have found work in the following sectors:
    • Industry
    • Entrepreneurial ventures
    • Research Institutes
    • Governmental jobs
    • Clinical practice
    • Graduate school

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No, prior work experience is not required. However, students are encouraged to have a prior understanding of, or interest in, the health care landscape and/or relevant educational or training experience.  The program is structured to build on an a student’s existing depth of knowledge. The program will provide a breadth of skills to help develop and catalyze ideas into practical solutions to medical needs. Although no work experience is needed, we are looking for well rounded students who bring to the program a range of skills and expertise.

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Yes. Translating knowledge into interventions, applications, widgets, policies and other strategies to advance human health requires (almost by definition) people from multiple disciplinary perspectives.  Diverse teams often bring diverse thinking to bear on solutions to medical needs.  So, the TRP welcomes applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds who have an interest in contributing to health science innovation.  

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No, the current the program is only offered on a full-time basis and should be completed in 2 years.  Other streams of the program are currently in development to accommodate PhD’s, Professionals, Post-Docs and other types of perspective students. If you are interested in the program, but concerned about scheduling conflicts, contact the program to discuss potential options.

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The Faculty teaching the courses will come from a range of disciplines and backgrounds. The IMS has over five hundred distinguished faculty members, making it the largest graduate unit in the Faculty of Medicine.  Refer to the individual course for instructor information.

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This program is geared towards helping students become problem solvers that are able to identify ingenuity gaps and develop innovative solutions. The program will allow students to demonstrate and build on their skills in collaboration, teamwork, managing projects, networking and their understanding of the health care context. We provide opportunities for multi-disciplinary collaboration and the development, testing and implementation of ideas.

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This program provides access to a wide range of expert faculty members at the University of Toronto and networking opportunities with fellow graduate students and industry contacts. Students will be working in some of the top research facilities in the world, such as the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN). There will be mentored design opportunities for translational research projects that directly impact health care delivery and patients’ health. This is a highly flexible program that can be tailored to students’ specific interests and learning goals, allowing for guided autonomy in your graduate studies.

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