Blog Global Health Center

Perspectives: The implementation of biomedical research

Written by Steven Daley, MD candidate, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center; participant in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program

Histological slide showing human lung tissue

As a participant in the Cardiovascular Disease & Hematology Track (RADIANCE), I have the opportunity to work in a research lab and attend various seminars and lectures about biomedical research. One recurring lecture theme that has interested me so far, is the field of dissemination and implementation science (D&I), which, according to WashU’s Center for Dissemination and Implementation, is the “scientific study of methods to promote the uptake of proven clinical treatments, programs and policies into routine use in new settings.” In other words, D&I helps bridge the gap between research and practice.

As a medical student, I have worked with several investigators who I think could benefit from a partnership with a D&I team. In my experience, many researchers have good ideas and results but don’t effectively translate their work into real-world solutions. It’s like a gifted teacher who can’t effectively educate students without proper communication skills. Unused research holds immense potential, and D&I can unlock it.

Before starting this program, I had never even heard of the term “D&I”, but I see its potential to improve some of the challenges facing medical research. For example, some research suggests there is an average delay of 17 years between research completion and integration into medical practice. At least some delay is needed to provide thorough testing through clinical trials and the development of the technology necessary to scale production, but any unnecessary setbacks can cause significant financial and human costs.

My summer research is with Hrishikesh Kulkarni, MD.  We are exploring the role that immunological lung proteins play in changing acute lung injury in model mice. More specifically, we are looking at how the lung cells of mice who have inactivated genes for complement proteins (which help the body fight infection) differ from mice with normal genes.

Though the path to clinical application might take time, our research on lung proteins and acute lung injury has the potential to contribute to advancements in treating respiratory distress. I am grateful for the knowledge and experiences this summer program has given me thus far and look forward to the rest of my work here. As an aspiring physician, I am confident that the skills I gain here will make me a better clinician and researcher.