September 15, 2011

New Center Promotes Translational Research

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The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research officially opened on Aug. 30 in the College of Human Ecology. The center aims to find ways to apply research outside of an academic setting.Translational research, which the center conducts, addresses the problem of how academic and policy research is incorporated into practical situations. Instead of policymakers and practitioners, translational research helps find practical solutions that are backed by evidence. This creates a more systematic approach to applying concepts discovered in research, according to Prof. Stephan Hamilton, human development, associate director of the BCTR.By creating this center, the University and Human Ecology can bring research to more people who could use it for practical and public policy purposes, said Prof. John Eckenrode, human development, director of the BCTR. This new focus on translational research, Eckenrode said, is a microcosm of what is happening all over the United States.According to Dean of the College of Human Ecology Alan Mathios, the center will bring the “bench to bedside model,” common in the medical field, to social sciences research. This center would make research “not just an academic exercise, but really have it impacting people,” Mathios said. Mathios added that the center also integrates Human Ecology’s three missions: education, outreach, and research.

The center represents the “next level in what the College wants to achieve,” Eckenrode said.The center also appeals to a commitment to the land grant aspect of the University, Hamilton said. The land grant system offers a link from policymakers in New York state to faculty at Cornell, so that the practitioners may benefit from research, Hamilton said. The translational research will allow these beneficiaries to more easily access research done by the University.The BCTR was formed when the Family Life and Development Center and the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center merged last year. The centers had overlapping interests, Mathios said.Both leaders agreed that it was a good time to be thinking about “reinvigorating and recasting,” Eckenrode said. After one year of planning, the center was established in August.The center is named after a distinguished professor and prominent developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, a scholar who brought “research to real people,” Hamilton said.This year, the center is mainly focused on building infrastructure, sponsoring speakers and workshops and engaging faculty. The BCTR also hopes to join forces with other centers to “be a part of the conversation at the University level,” Eckenrode said.  Not only will students be working on projects sponsored by the center as research assistants, but students will also have the opportunity to develop their own programs, Hamilton said. The center aims to “better integrate undergraduate research with outreach and research,” Mathios said.

Original Author: Caroline Flax