Global Experts Define Characteristics of Successful Translational Scientists

Published 13 June 2019

June 13, 2019; Amsterdam, The Netherlands—To advance and attract people to the field of translational science as a discipline, Translation Together, an international group of leading translational science experts, published a consensus paper that identifies—and visually shows—the fundamental qualities of translational scientists. The paper, “The Fundamental Characteristics of a Translational Scientist,” will appear in the June 14, 2019, issue of ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science.

Translational science, a relatively new field, is focused on understanding and accelerating the process of turning health science discoveries into new medical interventions. The people working in this field are innovative and collaborative, searching for ways to break down barriers in the translation process, and ultimately deliver more treatments to more patients more quickly.

The paper identifies seven traits of a translational scientist: boundary crosser, domain expert, team player, process innovator, skilled communicator, systems thinker and rigorous researcher. These qualities are independent of expertise area and even job sector, and they demonstrate the unique and holistic approach used by scientists already working in the field. The authors note that although the qualities also may characterize practitioners of other scientific disciplines, the full complement described in the article “is arguably unique to translational science.”

The authors are members of Translation Together, a global collaborative formed in 2017 to promote the science and understanding of biomedical translation. They encourage stakeholders across the translational spectrum to use and adapt the translational scientist infographic developed to educate, train and inspire the future generation of translational scientists.

Anton Ussi, Operations and Finances Director, EATRIS-ERIC noted that for such a young field, this is an important step in supporting the community to develop the skills necessary for robust translation of knowledge into interventions with high impact for society. He added, “We are very proud to work with our colleagues on four continents to advance the discipline of translational science, and look forward to more.”

Translation Together represents six of the world’s top translational science organizations: the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health in the United States, EATRIS – ERIC, the European Infrastructure for Translational Medicine in the European Union, LifeArc in the United Kingdom, the Centre for Drug Research and Development (now adMare BioInnovations) in Canada, Therapeutic Innovation Australia, and Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).

“This paper is one example of how we’re partnering with other translational science organizations to identify the knowledge, skills and outlook the next generation of the translational science workforce will need to be successful,” said NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D. “It is part of our ongoing effort to advance scientific and public discourse on translational science, including its potential and its challenges.”

For more information about Translation Together, visit


Christine Cutillo                                                                                     Florence Bietrix
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