March 31, 2015


MSC 1000: Foundations in Translational Research

Course Syllabus 2016/17

Joseph Ferenbok, PhD

Title: Director

Position: Translational Research Program

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Norman Rosenblum

Title: Professor of Paediatrics, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Nephrology

Position: Paediatric Nephrologist and Senior Scientist; Associate...

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Richard Foty, PhD

Title: Assistant Professor

Company: Translational Research Program

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Directors: Joseph Ferenbok & Norm Rosenblum
Time:Tuesday’s 4pm – 7pm
Location: Rm 302, 263 McCaul



There are many perspectives on what constitutes Translational Research (TR) in health sciences.  Most views incorporate the idea that TR is the harnessing of knowledge from discovery (fundamental science) to produce new drugs, devices, diagnostics, and treatment options.  TR can also mean the translation of research into processes and practices that deal with policy and intervention; TR for some means the movement of a discovery from an animal model into humans; and TR can mean simply the transition of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries of research.  From these perspectives, the aim of TR is to help ensure that treatments and knowledge improve human health.  However, translation also includes processes through which feedback from the community and clinicians can inform research in the fundamental sciences, or how policy and funding can drive discovery research in specific areas and not others.  Thus, effective translation constitutes bi-directional (and often cyclical) movement of knowledge across disciplinary silos, furthering the understanding of biologic mechanisms, techniques and approaches that support prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.  While this movement of knowledge or transformation of discoveries into innovations that have impact on individuals and populations is filled with both opportunities, it is also fraught with challenges that make effective translation unpredictable and difficult.


This seminar, discussion and case-based course will:

·         provide a high level survey the TR pathways in health sciences;

·         examine the tools that are available to the ‘translational scientist’;

·         and explore what kind of facilitation, techniques and technologies allow for ideas and knowledge to cross boundaries in a trans-formative fashion.

The course will help students distinguish how areas of fundamental and applied investigation are linked in the TR continuum and articulate the knowledge skills necessary to move ideas and projects across these domains.


Course Structure

This course is a full year (“Y”) course that is composed of Seminars and Case Study sessions.  The Seminars and Case Studies will each begin with a reflection period during which students are asked to record in their journals impressions about their learning experiences and document any outstanding questions or insights.


Seminars will generally begin with a seminar (sometimes co-facilitated by a guest) and then will involve small group discussions followed by a class discussion on the daily theme.  Students are expected to come prepared to engage in the seminars and with the guest discussants.  Additional readings or activities may be assigned through out the term at the discursion of the course director(s) and guest facilitators.  The core readings form the basic knowledge level expected for participation in class discussion on weekly themes—these will be posted to and updated on the student website associated with this course.  Due to the multidisciplinary nature and broad range of topics discussed, students are encouraged to explore additional background literature to improve their understandings of the materials covered and be prepared to engage in a sophisticated level of discussion with guest facilitators and discussants.


Sessions will also include Case Studies.  Students will be divided into smaller groups and will work with Case Study Facilitators to examine cases designed to explore translational thinking and decision making.  The case studies are generally divided into three parts.  Each part of the case study will involve a case brief, group analysis, and a presentation and discussion session.

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