UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Knowledge translation in action : cancer biology and systems pharmacology at the National Center for Advancing Translational Science Chiappetta, Margaret Elizabeth


The need for novel diagnostic and therapeutic drugs with the potential to combat increasingly prevalent or particularly insidious diseases has grown in recent years. Concurrently, the issue of translating scientific knowledge from “bench to bedside” has become increasingly salient. In 2011, the U.S. National Institutes of Health created the National Center for Advancing Translational Science in an effort to remedy the recalcitrant gaps between fundamental laboratory research and late-stage clinical trial, thereby dramatically reducing the amount of time and expense needed to develop efficacious pharmaceutical prototypes for a range of emerging, re-emerging, and chronic diseases. However, the realities of pharmaceutical development are incongruous with the expectations of the lay public that even the most fundamental scientific research yield results with immediate social and commercial value. Traditional linear models of progress overlook both the epistemic nature of scientific innovation and the significance of the socio-economic supply and demand factors driving research endeavours. The aim of this dissertation is to underline the epistemic and socio-economic characteristics of translational science – specifically in the context of research targeting novel oncology therapeutics and diagnostics – through the lens of Science and Technology Studies. In focusing on research in cancer biology funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Science, this thesis highlights the significance of Mode 2 or “post-academic” science, and by extension the roles of interdisciplinarity and applicability, and the commodification of scientific knowledge, that arise in the process of translating scientific knowledge.

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