Challenges in translational research: The views of addiction scientists

Jenny E. Ostergren, Rachel R. Hammer, Molly J Dingel, Barbara A. Koenig, Jennifer B. McCormick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: To explore scientists' perspectives on the challenges and pressures of translating research findings into clinical practice and public health policy. Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 20 leading scientists engaged in genetic research on addiction. We asked participants for their views on how their own research translates, how genetic research addresses addiction as a public health problem and how it may affect the public's view of addiction. Results: Most scientists described a direct translational route for their research, positing that their research will have significant societal benefits, leading to advances in treatment and novel prevention strategies. However, scientists also pointed to the inherent pressures they feel to quickly translate their research findings into actual clinical or public health use. They stressed the importance of allowing the scientific process to play out, voicing ambivalence about the recent push to speed translation. Conclusions: High expectations have been raised that biomedical science will lead to new prevention and treatment modalities, exerting pressure on scientists. Our data suggest that scientists feel caught in the push for immediate applications. This overemphasis on rapid translation can lead to technologies and applications being rushed into use without critical evaluation of ethical, policy, and social implications, and without balancing their value compared to public health policies and interventions currently in place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere93482
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 4 2014
Externally publishedYes


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