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The Path From Bench to Bedside
  1. Mason Wright Freeman, MD,
  2. Andrew P. Dervan, MD
  1. From the Department of Medicine and the Center for Computational & Integrative Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.
  1. Received October 14, 2010, and in revised form January 21, 2011.
  2. Accepted for publication January 22, 2011.
  3. Reprints: Mason Wright Freeman, MD, Department of Medicine and the Center for Computational & Integrative Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit St, Boston, MA 02114. E-mail: Freeman{at}
  4. Supported by a grant from the National Center for Research Resources (R13 RR023236).

Considerations Before Starting the Journey


Our understanding of human biology has increased tremendously for the last several decades, yet the pace at which these discoveries have translated into new therapies for patients has been frustratingly stagnant. Universities and academic health centers, as the major recipients of public investment in biomedical science, have an obligation to translate new knowledge into applications that confer human benefit. However, translating fundamental discoveries into practical applications is expensive and involves highly regulated steps with which few academic scientists have experience. Challenges in engaging universities and academic health centers in translational research include building the appropriate infrastructures for human investigation, training and stabilizing the careers of young scientists and physicians interested in the requisite work, educating academic investigators about the regulatory requirements inherent in successful therapeutic discovery and development, and finding more efficient ways to match good ideas with adequate funding resources. The purpose of this article is to examine the early-stage drug development process and evaluate the role that academia could play in it. Because interest in early-stage drug development grows among academic investigators, the need for more integrated partnerships among academia, government, and industry has become increasingly apparent.

Key Words
  • drug discovery
  • translational medicine
  • therapeutics

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