Accepted Paper:

From models to patients: Understandings of translation in systems medicine   


Regine Kollek (University of Hamburg)
Imme Petersen (Technical University Braunschweig)

Paper short abstract:

Systems medicine is seen as the translation of knowledge from systems biology into clinical practice. Up to now it is still disputed what the term translations means and comprises. This paper presents and discusses empirical findings on how researchers in systems medicine conceptualize translation.

Paper long abstract:

The paper focusses on translation in Systems Medicine, which is conceived as the implementation of Systems Biology approaches in medical concepts, research and practice, through iterative and reciprocal feedback between data-driven computational and mathematical models as well as model-driven translational and clinical investigations. However, what exactly is meant by translational research or translation in this context? Often both terms are used interchangeably with implementation. However, in contrast to implementation, translation refers less to the application of verified knowledge, but more to the transfer of knowledge from one realm of epistemic and social practice to another one. Although some definitions of translation have been proposed, there is no common understanding of what it involves in more detail. Some scholars have pointed out that the overall process has to be conceived as a heterogeneous, multidimensional endeavor, which comprises epistemic, clinical, organizational, ethical, social, and legal aspects. In order to gain a closer, empirically grounded understanding of how translation is actually understood, we conducted interviews with researchers from different specialties involved in translational research in Systems Medicine in order to explore their conception of the term and related practices. By doing it, we were especially interested in the question how researchers thought about bridging the epistemic and cultural gaps between the many disciplines participating in translation. Furthermore, we aim at systematizing the different socio-technical activities involved in such processes. In our presentation, we will describe and discuss some results of our investigation, thereby contributing to the emerging STS-field of analyzing translation in biomedicine.

Panel T031
Topographies of clinical translation: charting novel sociotechnical landscapes within and around biomedical research.