A term that is commonly used these days to describe some forms of research is “translational”. The National Institute of Health, the major research funding agency for Universities and Medical Schools, is placing a priority on translational research. There is probably not a commonly accepted criterion for deciding whether research is translational. Indeed, whether research is “translational” or not, often is in the eye of the beholder. However, generally what is meant is that the research, while it may not be directed towards answering a specific pragmatic question, such as “Does memorizing multiplication table in the 4th grade predict higher algebra scores in the ninth?”, the results of the research should advance answers to socially important questions and generate a path to direct application.
The School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences has a long-standing commitment to translational work. Faculty and students spend hours each day developing new knowledge with the goal of improving the human condition. The range of inquiry engaged in by School researchers is extraordinary, covering the age spectrum from newborns to the elderly and answering questions ranging from how synaptic chemistry is altered by experience to how family patterns influence childhood obesity. The common ingredient in such research endeavors is unraveling of mysteries in order to improve lives. This enterprise is a vital part of our mission as part of the University and does not exist in isolation from our primary mission of training students, but is part of that role. By being one of the nation’s leaders in research in our fields of training we insure that students receive the most current up-to-date knowledge and become sophisticated generators or consumers of new knowledge. So, we are proud that before “translational” became a buzzword, we were committed to this important quest.