CTSI Annual Pilot Awards to Improve the Conduct of Research

An Open Proposal Opportunity

Video Series to Support Translational Research and Development

Proposal Status: 

The Challenging Path from Bench to Bedside
Although basic and clinical scientists have long collaborated, translational research challenges investigators to move beyond the traditional training of both laboratory scientists and clinicians. The delivery of effective clinical solutions involve the integration of science, technology, intellectual property, market analysis, product development, clinical, regulatory and reimbursement strategy, and marketing. These are clearly very different disciplines and functions, practiced by professionals with very different backgrounds and experiences. Nevertheless, early investigators benefit tremendously from an appreciation for how these various factors affect the likelihood that an innovation will successfully lead to clinical implementation. In the T1 Catalyst Program at UCSF CTSI, we work closely with investigators to identify and support key innovations that are likely candidates for translation. Common concerns and questions about the many challenges in translating basic research toward clinical practice are routinely discussed.

A Video-Based Initiative to Trigger Early Engagement and Collaboration
We propose the production and targeted distribution of a series of brief (3-5 minutes) professional videos to broaden the dissemination of this information, and highlight UCSF and external resources available to support investigators tackle these challenges. The videos will illustrate a number of case studies through engaging narratives of the experiences and challenges faced by investigators, administrators, and business professionals at UCSF and private organizations. The impact of each case study will be further bolstered by highlighting the stories of the ultimate beneficiaries of successful translational research - patients.

This pilot project will focus on five key topics: needs assessment, intellectual property, strategic partnerships, getting to first-in-human clinical trials, and regulatory strategy. These videos will not provide in-depth analyses of each subject, but be a catalyst for viewers to assess their own needs, discover available resources, seek further information or assistance, and share their thoughts and ideas. Within UCSF, we will also highlight the expertise at the Office of Technology Management (OTM), the Office of Innovation, Technology and Alliances (ITA), the Institute of Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), and others to provide a more complete view of the resources available to investigators. Our objectives are: (i) to inform interested UCSF investigators of the key challenges to translational research, (ii) to persuade them that UCSF (and its partners) can support them to be successful; and (iii) to inform external organizations that UCSF is a valuable partner for translational research and development.

Leveraging Storytelling, Consumer-Generated Content and Social Networking
To maximize reach and impact, the videos will tell a number of stories, that weave together the many facets of translational research. These will not be instructional videos. They may include dramatized re-enactments, and character development that convey the many, often opposing, objectives of stakeholders. The videos will be hosted and promoted through traditional and non-traditional distribution channels that not only target public and private investigators, but their research assistants, and supporting administrators. This wider audience will be encouraged to participate in the narrative by providing feedback or sharing videos of their own experiences and concerns. These discussions will be further promoted to increase awareness and a sense of community and shared interest.

We will also coordinate promotion with other UCSF and UC communication channels (i.e. UCTV, etc.), as well as several external business and R&D groups. Distribution efforts may also include targeted email marketing, other CTSA network communication channels, outreach to relevant bloggers, etc. The outreach will be accompanied by viewer analytics to improve and customize future projects and campaigns.

Assessing Awareness and Long-Term Engagement
In the short term, we will measure the success of our project through viewer surveys. These surveys will be carefully designed to elicit information about the viewer's understanding of why and how translational research occurs, their interest in learning more, and ongoing concerns. In the long term, we will use the results from our outreach-based analytics, and measures of increased interest from UCSF and non-UCSF investigators and business professionals, to assess the impact of this project (e.g. measured through the number and quality of applications to the T1 Catalyst Award Program).

An Experienced and Multi-Disciplinary Team
The project will be a collaborative effort between CTSI's Communications team and Early Translational Research (ETR) program. John Daigre and Katja Reuter (CTSI Communications) are experienced multimedia and social media professionals who will serve as advisors throughout the planning, production, and editing process, and take a leading role in the promotion phase. ITA, OTM, QB3 and other key UCSF-based institutions will also be major contributors to the project. An external video production company will be hired to help develop story lines, and produce and edit the videos. Ruben Rathnasingham (ETR), who has helped develop a number of university-based innovations into clinical products, will manage the project.

Total Budget: $40,000 

This pilot project will take 6 months to complete with a budget of $40,000 for planning, production, editing, and promotion. 


This sounds very interesting. Would love to talk with you about creating an educational video discussing the process of translating research into policies/law and the challenges. One question: would this resource be available to non-UCSF researchers or is the goal to promote UCSF and its partners?

Hi Dennis, Would love to talk more. I think the inclusion of policy and legislation to the discussion is crucial. Also the concept of aligning investigator incentives with the objectives of translation would be valuable. This resource would definitely be available to non-UCSF researchers and business professionals. One of our primary goals is to promote strategic partnerships. We have found that industry would love to be a part of the conversation.

With such a wide array of potential topics to cover, how will video topics be selected and prioritized during the pilot period?

Katie, this is a great point and our approach will be to target the most common challenges for early investigators first: needs finding, IP, fundraising, partnerships and regulatory strategy. This will enable us to assess the impact of this communication strategy and follow up with other topics, if successful.

Excellent idea - even though I'm often skeptical about the cost/benefit for video production. I think the focus on early translational research (challenges, gaps, etc) is one thats particularly well positioned to benefit from short videos. I think you should think a little more carefully about distribution - think about when and where your customers might be most likely to stumble across these. And, for assessing impact, think about how you might tie these videos to the number and quality of proposals you see in T1 Catalyst or other (e.g. QB3) submissions. Speaking of QB3, certainly coordinate with them.

Great points Mini, and as John points out, these are key issues that we recognize to be critical to the success of the project. We will start with the videos themselves - focusing on a compelling narrative as opposed to a series of interviews. They will be interactive and may offer collaborative challenges. A lot of effort is planned for the pre-production/design phase of the project. It will not only include the CTSI Communications team and an experienced media production company, but the folks at QB3, ITA, OTM and others. Everyone is excited to contribute. Capturing the attention of research investigators has always been a challenge. We hope to address it by identifying traditional and non-traditional distribution channels that not only target investigators, but their students and research assistants, and supporting administrators. To maximize engagement, we will focus our efforts on developing narratives that highlight the importance of a collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach and the immense resources available at UCSF to help investigators succeed.

I agree that this is a good idea, and look forward to supporting this project from a communications perspective. This would be a valuable tool in efforts to convey our message(s) to researchers, industry, and graduate students (all among the target audience of this project), and others. Ruben and I agree that there are challenges regarding getting the videos in front of the right people, and that we will need to get creative regarding how it’s produced and distributed. The latter will include collaborating with other groups on campus, the CTSA communicators network, etc. I also expect Social Media, along with resources such as UCTV, to play a key role in making these available to a wider audience, and a customized marketing plan will be developed with these and other resources in mind. I’m confident that the timeline and budget are realistic, and that this effort would integrate with CTSI’s overall communications efforts, as well as aims to increase awareness and use of services. A key element of this project will include measuring success (including linking to number of T1 applicants, as noted in an earlier comment, and other metrics).

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