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Why Translational Medicine Fails – And What to do About it

Organizing institution
Utrecht University, Faculty of Medicine (UU)
Course code
Course fee (incl. housing)
€ 750
Advanced master level

This Summerschool tackles the intrinsic difficulties of effective translational medicine in rare and orphan diseases and is meant for early stage researchers with an interest in this field. With this Summer School course you will not only obtain insight in how science really works, but more importantly, you will acquire knowledge on how to be a successful translational researcher yourself. This course is specifically not about learning how to ‘play the game’, but about understanding that there is a game going on, what the rules of the game are and to be able to transcend it.

You will be informed about the latest developments in translational medicine, inspired by rare diseases, and you will develop professional skills that are essential to becoming a translational researcher. Translational medicine, the process of translating ideas from bench to bedside, is failing. To solve this colossal problem at the heart of biomedical science it is necessary to train and educate a new generation of translational scientists who understand how the science system works and who are equipped with the right skills and competences. Using real-life examples from the field of orphan and pediatric diseases we will help aspiring translational scientists to develop complementary and leadership skills needed to successfully navigate the complex field of translational medicine.

Biomedical science suffers from a schism. Academic researchers gain prestige by publishing papers in high impact journals, but this is only very remotely connected to creating tangible benefits for patients. This near disconnect has led to much academic research being not relevant or irreproducible and accounts for the worldwide waste of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. It also explains the dramatic failure of translation of ideas from bench to bedside, an issue that is even bigger for paediatric and orphan diseases. As a result, the ‘agent of translation’, the translational scientist, either a clinically interested basic scientist or a research-minded MD, is at risk of becoming extinct. This course takes up that challenge. The course provides aspiring translational scientists with insights, tools and competences to navigate the difficult track from bench to bedside. Crucial is obtaining a systemic perspective on science, complemented with skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and communication. The program will include personal mentoring and advice. The one-week course is preceded by a comprehensive e-learning course. The course empowers participants to become successful translational scientists, especially in the fields of rare and paediatric diseases.

“I was inspired by the positive energy and commitment shown by everybody in this course to change the current paradigm in research into a better and translational kind of way” – Yogi Prawira

“A Summer course that changes your life, not only professionally but also on personal basis!” – Sabine van der Laan

“Inspirational, innovative, interactive. Actually the best course that I’ve ever attended. Met some of the best and exciting minds in the business – and that’s not counting the students!” - Rosie Davies

“This week has been an incredible week for learning and self-growth. I pledge to be more stringent when I do research and inspire others to do the same” – Ayesh Senerivatne

“This has been a wonderful opportunity to meet passionate and motivated young researchers and inspirational mentors / leaders in translational medicine” – Rosie Gilbert

“For anybody who wants to become a translational researcher, the first and critical step to become one is to participate in this course. Thank you so much for the amazing and inspiring week” - Janneke Peeters

“This course has challenged my understanding of true translational research. I am honored to carry the torch to Miami and promote translational medicine and the Apollo program to my peers.” – Michelle Trojanowsky

Tags: translational medicine, science in transition, rare diseases, orphan diseases, scientific literacy

» Download the day-to-day programme (PDF)

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Prof. Dr. Berent Prakken


Clinical researchers; either basic scientists with an interest in translation from bench to bed side, or clinicians with interest in research.


Empowerment of aspiring clinical/translational scientists through:
1. Scientific literacy: understanding how science works
2. Understanding the translational pathway
3. Improving complementary and leadership skills


40 plus 10 hours e-learning (before the face-to=face course)


• € 750 - Course + course materials + housing
• € 550 - Course + course materials

The fee includes a lunch during the days of class.
Please note that preceding the course the participants will complete a personalized e-learning module on the same topic.

» Overview of all available discounts


A limited number of scholarships is available for students who are from an institution that is part of the network of the Eureka Institute (www.eurekainstitute.org) and/or students who take part in the Apollo Network (www.apollosociety.eu)


Rinze Benedictus
University Medical Center Utrecht
T: +31 88 75 587 68

» Contact Utrecht Summer School


Deadline for registration: 01 May 2017

Course fully booked