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Translational research policies: Disruptions and continuities in biomedical innovation systems in Austria, Finland and Germany

: Vignola-Gagné, E.; Rantanen, E.; Lehner, D.; Hüsing, B.


Journal of Community Genetics 4 (2013), No.2, pp.189-201
ISSN: 1868-310X (Print)
ISSN: 1868-6001 (Online)
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
translational research; translational medicine; innovation policy; Genomics; clinician-scientists; pharmaceutical innovation crisis

Increasing the rate of biomedical research that is relevant to clinical innovation has been an intensifying concern of the research community and of policy-makers. In response, some of these actors have recently promoted varied approaches they label as translational research (TR) and translational medicine. This movement started in the USA in the early 1990s, and has since evolved to encompass large and ambitious initiatives. Its advocates contend that the productivity of biomedical innovation systems can be bolstered by: (1) the extension of large-scale development collaborations; (2) the strengthening of clinical experimental platforms; (3) training and supporting dedicated human capital; (4) achieving higher collective coordination of research teams than was previously common practice. In this paper, we examine to which extent these objectives have been put into practice by communities of biomedical actors and policymakers, by characterizing current translational initiatives in three European countries - Austria, Finland and Germany. This research draws on an analysis of policy documents and 26 semi-structured interviews conducted with policy-makers and TR advocates from these countries. Traditions of science and technology policy-making in each country have made them differentially receptive to the TR movement. German biomedical actors have most fully put into practice TR propositions, while Finland has seen policy-level debate of the notions but little in the way of concrete implementation and Austria appears to be a middle case.