The mission of the Berlin Institute of Health is medical translation, which involves transferring research findings to the patient’s bedside and bringing clinical observations back to the laboratory for further testing. On January 25 and 26, experts from science, industry and regulatory agencies as well as investors and representatives of funding organizations will discuss how this often lengthy and complex process can be sped up and improved, and what lessons have been learned internationally. The BIH Center for Regenerative Therapies is organizing the symposium “Translate! 2021 – Metrics and Milestones of Success” in conjunction with the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the journal Science Translational Medicine. The symposium will take place exclusively online.
It takes on average about 15 years of development and a billion euros to turn an idea into a drug or a vision into a validated process. Only about 10 percent of all projects actually come to fruition. “We need a translational ecosystem that provides the specific conditions needed for this type of research,” says Professor Axel R. Pries, Dean of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. “Together with the BIH, the third pillar of Charité, we are working to create such an ecosystem. It requires, on one hand, a suitable infrastructure, and on the other hand, researchers and physicians who are trained in translation and enthusiastic about it and who also have the right mindset, which we want to foster and encourage in a university hospital setting. We have to facilitate, promote, and reward translation.”
The symposium “Translate! 2021 – Metrics and Milestones of Success” will focus on how to measure the success of translation efforts. Some 30 talks, discussions and workshops will address topics such as “Steering vs. Freedom of Translation,” “The Role of Data Reproducibility in Translation,” “How to Judge Translational Progress and Performance” and “Translational Hubs – Infrastructures to Boost Translation.” Panelists will also discuss how novel therapies can be developed, whether it’s using genetically modified cells or digital applications, or whether it’s establishing a closer partnership between all actors, in particular, with regulatory agencies. During the symposium, participants will prepare two consensus statements: The first will provide guidance on metrics that better inform translational progress and rank success, while the second will outline how to improve biomedical data stewardship, veracity, validation and confidence, and how this might be enforced to improve translational efficiency.
Expertise from around the world
Professor Georg Duda, the chair of the symposium and also spokesperson of the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapies and director of the Julius Wolf Institute of Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Regeneration, is excited about the high level of interest in the symposium: “We have over 400 registrations from all over the world. Our speakers are all experts in translation, but at the moment each of them is building silos of knowledge and expertise at their respective institution. With the symposium, now in its third edition, we want to continue the global discourse necessary to make translation a success. We want to learn from each other what common pitfalls should be avoided in order to prevent everyone from going through the same experience.” Professor Bruce Tromberg of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, will describe how the NIH managed in a matter of weeks to run around one million SARS-CoV-2 tests per day, in order to map the true scope of the pandemic in the United States. Other speakers come from leading universities such as Harvard University, University of California, San Francisco, the Univeristy of Oxford, and Stockholm University; from hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic and Heidelberg University Hospital; from foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; from regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the German Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI), Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines; and from the private sector, such as a large pharma company from Basel and a small start-up from Tokyo.
The ingredients for successful translation
Professor Christopher Baum, Chair of the BIH Board of Directors and Chief Translational Research Officer of Charité, stresses that the rapid development of a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus has shown exactly what is needed to swiftly translate laboratory discoveries into clinically viable applications: “We need excellent researchers who are capable of producing valid and robust findings. Translating these findings into practice is cost-intensive and requires ample financial resources, but also strong partners who provide support with aspects such as production or clinical testing. And finally, regulatory agencies must act in a flexible and transparent manner under harmonized conditions. The BIH is active in all these areas and ensures that the best possible environment for translation is in place.”
The symposium Translate! 2021 – Metrics and Milestones of Success is being held online on January 25 and 26, from 5 to 9 p.m. CET each day. To register for free or to learn more, visit: www.science-translate.com