Research on health literacy can be viewed as translational research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has in the last few years revisited its mission and has focused on developing expertise and products in translational research, moving from bench to bedside, and then from bedside to community. Over the past half century NIH primarily funded Translational 1 (T-1) research, which is research on “the transfer of new understandings of disease mechanisms gained in the laboratory into the development of new methods for diagnosis, therapy, and prevention and their first testing in humans” (Sung et al., 2003). Translational 2 (T-2) research involves bedside-to-community research, as does some Transitional 3 (T-3) research, which is defined as “the translation of results from clinical studies into everyday clinical practice and health decision making” (Sung et al., 2003). Much effort has been put into T-1 discovery. While the gap in funding between T-1 and T-2 research is immense, increased attention is now being paid to how T-1 discoveries can be incorporated into clinical and public health practice to promote behavior change and reduce health disparities. Unfortunately, the results of bench research do not spontaneously diffuse throughout the practice community. For example, the findings from randomized controlled trials may not affect community practices for years to decades. The Clinical Translational Science Awards from the NIH are accelerating the pace of discovery from the bench all the way to population health, Schillinger said.
The UCSF received an NIH Translational Sciences Award and established the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). CTSI challenges, encourages, and supports UCSF researchers to take the research capital at UCSF—the great wealth of clinical research discoveries, knowledge, and know-how—and link it with community partners’ expertise and priorities to effectively translate research into interventions that can be scaled to make a measurable impact on the health of the local community and eliminate disparities. CTSI has developed four working principles. These are as follows: