Training to translate: Understanding and informing translational animal research in pre-clinical pharmacology

James Lowe, Sabina Leonelli, and Gail Davies
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In this paper, in Tecnoscienza, we investigate translation in biomedicine by exploring how researchers supported by the British Pharmacological Society’s Integrative Pharmacology Fund (IPF) have responded to increasing translational aspirations within pre-clinical animal research. The IPF sought to enhance institutional capacities, collaborative practices, and personal skills within in vivo research in the quintessentially translational fields of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology. We identify three manifestations of the influence of translational aspirations: 1) shifting from the standardisation of animal models to the alignment of research on animals with human therapeutic pathways; 2) expanding relationalities of care in animal research from a focus on the animal body to institutional arrangements around clinical care; and 3) changing training around research ethics, integrity and good statistical practice. Concluding, we discuss the value of working interactively with those involved in the changing practices of animal research and translation as a means to foster reflexivity about what matters when ‘training to translate’.

This paper draws on research evaluating the Integrative Pharmacology Fund (IPF) carried out in collaboration with the British Pharmacological Society. You can read the final report to the BPS here.