Bridging the valley of death in biomedicine with translational research: Assessing the impact of National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Award

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Kim, Yeon Hak Hak
Levine, Aaron D.
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Despite large investment in biomedical research by government, foundations and private organizations around the world, we are not experiencing an increase in the new medicine reaching the market. Many studies point out that this productivity decline in biomedicine is mainly due to the difficulty in translating basic science into clinical setting. Translational research emerged as a key research policy tool to address this problem over the last decade. Translational research aims to bridge the gap between basic science and clinical science to accelerate the process of moving research innovation into clinical use. In the United States, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) took the lead in supporting translational research by developing the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) in 2006. In this dissertation, the author examined the impact of NIH’s effort on supporting translational research focusing on two topics, which are collaboration network structure and production of translational publications. Regarding the collaboration landscape, the change of social network analysis measures showed that the CTSA award had an impact in changing the biomedical research landscape into denser and less centralized form. The result of the network regression models showed that receiving CTSA award led individual institutions to collaborate more with other institutions. For the test on the production of translational publications, which is the second topic of interest, a unique measure using the composition of forward citation of publications is introduced. The results from difference-in-difference regression and mediation tests showed that the CTSA award leads to the increase of publications and this relationship is mediated by inter-collaboration feature of institutions after the CTSA program is well stabilized. The author expects that the study will provide insight into the effects of translational research initiatives and have implications on the government policy regarding biomedical research more broadly.
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