Articulating the social responsibilities of translational science

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In recent funding calls, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences has shifted its focus from “translational research,” which applies to studies in specific therapeutic areas, toward “translational science” interventions which aim to modify the system of translational discovery in the health sciences. To date, the social responsibilities of translational science have not been adequately articulated. In this paper, we argue that the ethical practice of translational science should include explicit social responsibilities that contribute to improved health outcomes and decreased disparities. Articulating social responsibilities specific to translational science is justified based on three of the field’s foundational elements: (1) the social contract regarding public funding of research, (2) the goals of translational science, and (3) the increased risk of direct, indirect, and systemic harms from translational science, which involve system-level changes. We integrate social responsibilities into a framework which prioritizes developing relevant, usable, and sustainable innovations in translational science and provide three illustrative examples to demonstrate the practical application of this framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number85
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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