From Bench to Beside and Back: TMU’s International PhD Program for Translational Science

Source: Taipei Medical University

Published on 2019-12-16

One of TMU’s newest programs, the International PhD program for Translational Science, will begin its inaugural academic year in 2020.  The program grew out of TMU’s existing Graduate Institute of Translational Medicine, and taught fully in English gives students from around the world an exciting opportunity to bring translational research “from the bench to the bedside.” Spotlight spoke with two of the program’s organizing professors, Dr. Ming-Heng Wu and Dr. Hao-Ching Wang.

Students in the program learn hands-on how to perform basic science, animal studies, and clinical trials. Professors from across the spectrum of translational fields, including bio-statistics, cancer research, animal model, and drug design, work closely with students, training them in how to independently address and overcome difficulties in transforming discoveries in basic science (the bench) to hospital applications (the bedside), said Dr. Wu.

The International PhD program welcomes applicants from varied backgrounds. Most students in translational science come from medical degrees or have backgrounds in biotechnology, but “the International program of translational science won’t be limited to certain students,” said Dr. Wang. “Medical doctors and other grad students including those from biology, medicine, and pharmacy are welcome.”

“Our program is a platform, a bridge, to help students either from the clinical side or the basic side. We’re kind of a customized program,” added Dr. Wu.

Ideas for research can come from lab basics or clinical experience. Dr. Wu hopes to see students of basic science take laboratory findings in to put into clinical use – translational science from bench to bedside. He also wants to see medical doctors look at problems encountered in practice – “We hope they can bring problems they find in the clinic back to the bench.”

Translational research at TMU is made easier by access to resources outside TMU’s main campus as well as TMU’s own. According to Dr. Wang, close relationships between TMU professors and doctors at TMU affiliated hospitals allow the establishment of “a bridge between the bench side and the bed side,” facilitating clinical trials and making translational research easier to accomplish.

Students will also have access to national-level core facilities resources at Taiwan’s largest research institution. TMU has signed an MOU agreement with Academia Sinica regarding shared facility use, and close ties between many of the program’s professors and the institution facilitates access to cutting-edge equipment.

Medical doctors graduating from the program can continue translational research of clinical disorders with basic researchers. There are also opportunities for international students to learn the skills and gain the experience needed to direct research centers in their home countries. Dr. Wu and Wang also look forward to ongoing relationships that benefit both graduates and TMU.

Students “don’t need to be set in a uniform pattern to graduate,” said Dr. Wu, but they should have open minds and a passionate willingness to learn. “In our program we want them to learn from both sides [basic and clinical].” The payoff, he says, is making discoveries that are impactful.

“If students have any ideas (for research) they can send an email,” says Dr. Wu. “The students are the most important treasure of the program. They can bring new ideas and stimulate new research. Think about what you want to do and we can help.”

You can find out more about by visiting the website of International PhD program for Translational Science, or by contacting the OGE.

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