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Preface: Fostering collaboration and cooperation

The efforts to advance Sino-American collaboration in clinical and translational research described in this booklet reflect both great needs and great opportunities. As we all know, far too many patients throughout the world are suffering from a wide array of seemingly intractable diseases, both infectious and noncommunicable. Moreover, fragmented health care systems and high costs for medical care and medications make these problems even more daunting.

To even partially address these problems, clinicians and other treatment providers are in dire need of greater understanding of the pathophysiology of disorders as well as new prevention and treatment approaches based on that understanding. Leaders of pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are also calling for new therapeutic targets that would increase the effectiveness and accelerate the pace of medication development.

Meeting global medical needs also requires a broadening and strengthening of the clinical and translational science community of scholars. There are far too few individuals trained as physician-scientists, and the system for producing them is cumbersome and very time consuming, both for the trainees and their mentors. The situation with translational science is particularly worrisome, since there are no established best practices for training physician scientists in this relatively newly emerging phase of the research continuum. Training translational scientists is particularly complex because they need grounding in both basic science and clinical research. That combination can require long training periods, which often is a disincentive for younger scientists eager to establish laboratories of their own. Hopefully, combining the lessons learned in training programs in the United States and China will yield new and better training paradigms and protocols that can help expand the number of high quality individuals working in this domain.

The efforts to advance Sino-American collaboration in clinical and translational research described in this booklet reflect both great needs and great opportunities. As we all know, far too many patients throughout the world are suffering from a wide array of seemingly intractable diseases, both infectious and noncommunicable. Moreover, fragmented health care systems and high costs for medical care and medications make these problems even more daunting. To even partially address these problems, clinicians and other treatment providers are in dire need of greater understanding of the pathophysiology of disorders as well as new prevention and treatment approaches based on that understanding. Leaders of pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are also calling for new therapeutic targets that would increase the effectiveness and accelerate the pace of medication development. Meeting global medical needs also requires a broadening and strengthening of the clinical and translational science community of scholars. There are far too few individuals trained as physician-scientists, and the system for producing them is cumbersome and very time consuming, both for the trainees and their mentors. The situation with translational science is particularly worrisome, since there are no established best practices for training physician scientists in this relatively newly emerging phase of the research continuum. Training translational scientists is particularly complex because they need grounding in both basic science and clinical research. That combination can require long training periods, which often is a disincentive for younger scientists eager to establish laboratories of their own. Hopefully, combining the lessons learned in training programs in the United States and China will yield new and better training paradigms and protocols that can help expand the number of high quality individuals working in this domain.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to produce the best translational science, but we have few best practice paradigms for achieving this. Fortunately, both the American and Chinese clinical and translational research enterprises are gaining experience and improving the quality of their work all the time. Combining United States and Chinese efforts in collaborative partnerships, as reflected in this collection, will surely yield more and better outcomes than either alone.

Alan Leshner, Ph.D.
CEO, AAAS
Executive Publisher, Science

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