“Charting the Future of Translational Science”: Insights and Collaborations at the UF+FSU CTSA Hub Symposium

The University of Florida and Florida State University Clinical and Translational Science Award hub hosted its inaugural Translational Research Symposium on Thursday, Mar. 7, 2024, at the UF Harrell Medical Education Building. This year’s symposium, a combination of the previous UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute Research Day and Learning Health Systems Research Day, highlighted all disciplines and phases of clinical and translational research, uniting over 200 researchers, faculty, and students from both universities in a celebration of research excellence.  

“I was really impressed with the breadth of the research and the vibrant interaction between the different scientific disciplines from basic scientists to population health scientists,” said Mark Segal, M.D., Ph.D., director for the UF M.D.-Ph.D. training program. Segal is also one of several prominent UF researchers in attendance, serving as senior associate dean for faculty affairs and professional development for the College of Medicine and a professor of medicine in the UF Division of Nephrology, Hypertension & Renal Transplantation. 

Under the overarching theme of “Charting the Future: Translational Science Principles in Action,” this symposium featured more than 70 presenters who showcased their knowledge and expertise through concurrent session presentations and posters that represented one or more of the eight principles outlined by the National Center for Advancing Translational Science.  

These principles, which include creativity and innovation, efficiency and speed, and boundary-crossing partnerships, to name a few, embody the shared goal of NCATS and the UF+FSU CTSA hub to expedite the translation of biomedical research into tangible health solutions. They also served as a thematic foundation for this symposium, underscoring presentations, guiding discussions, and providing opportunities for further collaboration between both universities. 

The event began with a welcome address from CTSA hub co-directors, Elizabeth Shenkman, Ph.D., and Jing Wang, Ph.D. Together, Shenkman and Wang highlighted the importance of cross-hub collaboration in accelerating translational science. They emphasized the transformative impact of interdisciplinary partnerships in creating opportunities for advancement across the biomedical research spectrum, setting the stage for further elaboration in the panel discussion moderated by Wayne McCormack, Ph.D., an expert in team science and co-director of the UF M.D.-Ph.D. program.   

Continuing with the theme of interdisciplinary collaboration, the panel featured researchers from both universities spanning multiple areas of expertise, including Faheem Guirgis, M.D., Shakira Henderson, Ph.D., D.N.P., Elias Sayour, M.D., Ph.D., Karla Shelnutt, Ph.D., and Frankie Wong, Ph.D. The panelists discussed their experiences and insights into translational science, showcasing the diverse range of expertise and perspectives in the field. 

Among the symposium’s most anticipated events, however, was the keynote presentation, “Turning Discovery into Medicine – a Translational Science Journey” hosted by CTSI director, Duane Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D. In his presentation, Mitchell chronicled the evolution of cancer immunotherapy and offered a glimpse into the promising future of precision medicine, underscoring the critical role of translational science in bridging the gap between laboratory discoveries and clinical applications.  

Additionally, attendees had the opportunity to explore a diverse array of research topics during the symposium’s poster and concurrent sessions. More than 60 posters were displayed throughout the event, as well as 17 concurrent sessions ranging from innovative mental health interventions to drug and device development.  These sessions provided a platform for researchers from the undergraduate level to faculty, to highlight their groundbreaking work and engage in meaningful discussions with peers across the translational continuum.  

The day concluded with closing remarks from CTSI chief operating officer, E. Mendy Dunn, M.S.N., R.N., celebrating the success of the symposium and the impactful research presented. “Today’s achievements clearly demonstrate that our diverse community of students, faculty, and staff is excellently equipped to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities in translational science,” Dunn said. “Together, we are leading the journey from groundbreaking innovations to tangible, real-world impacts,”  

TRS 2024 Leadership
Left to Right: Duane Mitchell, MD, PhD (UF); Jing Wang, PhD, RN (FSU); E. Mendy Dunn, MSN, RN (UF)