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Open Access Review

Institutional shared resources and translational cancer research

Paolo De Paoli

Author Affiliations

Centro di Riferimento Oncologico, IRCCS, Via F Gallini, 2, I-33081 Aviano PN Aviano, Italy

Journal of Translational Medicine 2009, 7:54  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-7-54

Published: 29 June 2009

Abstract

The development and maintenance of adequate shared infrastructures is considered a major goal for academic centers promoting translational research programs. Among infrastructures favoring translational research, centralized facilities characterized by shared, multidisciplinary use of expensive laboratory instrumentation, or by complex computer hardware and software and/or by high professional skills are necessary to maintain or improve institutional scientific competitiveness. The success or failure of a shared resource program also depends on the choice of appropriate institutional policies and requires an effective institutional governance regarding decisions on staffing, existence and composition of advisory committees, policies and of defined mechanisms of reporting, budgeting and financial support of each resource. Shared Resources represent a widely diffused model to sustain cancer research; in fact, web sites from an impressive number of research Institutes and Universities in the U.S. contain pages dedicated to the SR that have been established in each Center, making a complete view of the situation impossible. However, a nation-wide overview of how Cancer Centers develop SR programs is available on the web site for NCI-designated Cancer Centers in the U.S., while in Europe, information is available for individual Cancer centers. This article will briefly summarize the institutional policies, the organizational needs, the characteristics, scientific aims, and future developments of SRs necessary to develop effective translational research programs in oncology.

In fact, the physical build-up of SRs per se is not sufficient for the successful translation of biomedical research. Appropriate policies to improve the academic culture in collaboration, the availability of educational programs for translational investigators, the existence of administrative facilitations for translational research and an efficient organization supporting clinical trial recruitment and management represent essential tools, providing solutions to overcome existing barriers in the development of translational research in biomedical research centers.