CTSI Annual Pilot Awards to Improve the Conduct of Research

An Open Proposal Opportunity

Translating Research into Law and Policy

Proposal Status: 

Rationale: Currently, there is no direct pathway for health sciences research to move from scholarly publications into policy and law. Although some evidence is cherry-picked by advocates and policymakers, legislation often reflects rhetoric rather than evidence. While some translational researchers study the effects of laws or write white papers summarizing the state of the evidence, we know of none who take the approach of working with investigators to leverage their research and write model legislation. Here we propose the development of a replicable process that will translate research directly into evidence-based model policies, regulations, and laws that improve health and/or health outcomes. Model policies, regulations, and legislation are proposed pieces of law drafted by researchers working with legal scholars to incorporate the latest scientific evidence with the goal of improving health and/or health outcomes. The drafted language would then be made freely and widely available to legislators, advocates, and others involved in the enactment of law, regulations, and policy.  


1. Kick-off Meeting: March 30, 2012 to introduce the project and workshop additional ideas for a pilot project.

2. Pilot projects: This grant will fund one-two demonstration/pilot projects that bring together UC Hastings faculty, UCSF researchers, and students from both institutions to write evidence-based model legislation, regulations, and/or policies. This group will analyze both the current scientific evidence and the legal frameworks related to a health issue being investigated by a UCSF researcher; the group will then write model legislation that revises or changes current laws or that proposes new laws in order to improve health and health outcomes. One pilot project we are pursuing is on the toxic effects of sugar on health based upon Dr. Lustig's research (PDF attached). We are considering  a second pilot project. Current ideas include mandatory reporting laws in the emergency medicine setting, the effects of hospital and ED closure, the efficacy of orthopedic procedures, restrictions on activities of individuals with epilepsy, and implementation issues realted to the Affordable Care Act.


Criteria and Metrics for Success: The broad goal of this demonstration project is a proof of concept that then allows for replication and dissemination of this new approach for translating research directly into legislation:


1. Creation of model legislation and/or regulations resulting from biweekly meetings of the UCSF investigators, UC Hastings faculty, and students from both institutions and the dissemination of the work-product . Timeline: Spring 2012-spring 2013.

Documentation & Dissemination:

2. Document year-long process via a detailed white paper. 

3. Host 4 calls/virtual meetings to discuss and publicize model to organizations and institutions that would replicate this model.  This would occur via the CTSA Health Policy network. Timeline: Winter 2012-summer 2013.


4. Create a student group focused on the legislative process and the translation of research into the policy, regulatory, and legal realm.  Recruit 15-25 interested students to participate. Timeline: To start in spring 2012.

5. Identify internal and external funding options to sustain and expand the project. Apply for at least 2 grants during the pilot period. before grant period is up.  

Total Budget: $38,506

Salary support for UCSF faculty, Co-PIs and research assistants involved in developing the pilot projects, the Program Analyst to coordinate activities of this project, consultants, project supplies and communication.


1. UC Hastings: Jamie King, Jennifer Dunn, David Faigman, Sarah Hooper

2. UCSF: Dan Dohan (co-PI), Rob Lustig, Dennis Hsieh (co-PI), Richard Barnes, Jessaca Machado


Thanks for your suggestions - Definitely agree with you and earlier comments about including the administrative/regulatory realm as the scope of work for this project. We will include model regulations alongside model laws/legislation exactly because of the reason you point out - that regulations are part of the implementation or extension of legislation that is passed. Thus, helping inform the conversation at the regulatory/agency level will be crucial to translating health sciences research into actual practice as implemented through legislation.

Food for thought - I wonder how often policymakers and lawmakers are currently even able to access the latest evidence even if they are looking: http://www.economist.com/node/21552574 PUBLISHING obscure academic journals is that rare thing in the media industry: a licence to print money. An annual subscription to Tetrahedron, a chemistry journal, will cost your university library $20,269; a year of the Journal of Mathematical Sciences will set you back $20,100. In 2011 Elsevier, the biggest academic-journal publisher, made a profit of £768m ($1.2 billion) on revenues of £2.1 billion. Such margins (37%, up from 36% in 2010) are possible because the journals’ content is largely provided free by researchers, and the academics who peer-review their papers are usually unpaid volunteers. The journals are then sold to the very universities that provide the free content and labour. For publicly funded research, the result is that the academics and taxpayers who were responsible for its creation have to pay to read it. This is not merely absurd and unjust; it also hampers education and research. Publishers insist that high prices are necessary to ensure quality and cover the costs of managing the peer-review process, editing and distribution. High margins, they say, are evidence of their efficiency. Clearly the cost of producing a journal is not zero. But the internet means it should be going down, not up. Over the past decade many online journals and article repositories have emerged that are run on a shoestring. Some have been set up by academics who are unhappy with the way academic publishing works. (Since January some 9,500 researchers have joined a boycott of Elsevier.) In several cases the entire editorial boards of existing journals have resigned to start new ones with lower prices and less restricted access. But the incumbent journals are hard to dislodge. Researchers want their work to appear in the most renowned journals to advance their careers. Those journals therefore have the pick of the best papers,remain required reading in their fields and have strong pricing power as a result. What is to be done? There is a simple way both to increase access to publicly funded research and to level the playing field for new journals. Government bodies that fund academic research should require that the results be made available free to the public. So should charities that fund research. This would both broaden access to research and strengthen the hand of “open access” journals, since many researchers would then be unable to publish results in closed ones. There are some hopeful signs. The British government plans to mandate open access to state-funded research. The Wellcome Trust, a medical charity that pumps more than £600m ($950m) a year into research, already requires open access within six months of publication, but the compliance rate is only 55%. The charity says it will “get tough” on scientists who publish in journals that restrict access, for example by withholding future grants, and is also launching its own open-access journal. In America, a recent attempt (backed by journal publishers) to strike down the existing requirement that research funded by the National Institutes of Health should be made available to all online has failed. That is good news, but the same requirement should now be extended to all federally funded research. Open access to research funded by taxpayers or charities need not mean Armageddon for journal publishers. Some have started to embrace open access in limited ways, such as letting academics post their papers on their own websites or putting time limits on their pay barriers. But a strongly enforced open-access mandate for state- and charity-funded research would spur them to do more. The aim of academic journals is to make the best research widely available. Many have ended up doing the opposite. It is time that changed.


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