Non Sequiturs – Scene one: Translational Medicine

My wife, Judy, is currently enrolled in medical school. Yes, medical school. At the University of Edinburgh School of Medicine in Scotland. Sounds impressive, huh? 

Well, actually, it is. She’s not studying to be a doctor, but to earn a certificate in Translational Medicine. One of the most impressive parts of this is that, normally, only Medical Doctors are accepted into that program. And not many of them, either.

Don’t ask me how she got accepted into the program – I have no idea. But I do know that this isn’t the first time she has mannaged to get into a highly specialized and prestigious program. A few years ago, she earned a Fellowship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Bioinformatics. In that program, there are only about 30 students accepted from around the world per year.  She is a Course Fellow in that program. (No, she is not coarse, and she most definitely is not a fellow, so don’t ask again…)

While motoring Northward last weekend with Judy, our son Steven and his girlfriend Amanda, I brought up the fact that “Mom is in medical school”.

Steve, while not unaccustomed to his mother being in some course of study or other, was somewhat intrigued by the fact that she was now in medical school.

“Really? Mom, are you going to be a doctor?”

“Well, no, Steve. I’m actually in a certificate program in Translational Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.”

“In Scotland?”

“Yes. In Scotland.”

“So, what’s translational medicine?”

At this point, Judy launched into a very detailed and informative description of Translational Medicine. And while the following is not word for word what she actually said (I borrowed it from wikipedia), it sounds remarkably like Judy’s monolog – it covers the same stuff.

Only she said a whole lot more and she went on for about 15 minutes

“It is the process which leads from evidence based medicine to sustainable solutions for public health problems. It aims to improve the health and longevity of the world’s populations and depends on developing broad-based teams of scientists and scholars who are able to focus their efforts to link basic scientific discoveries with the arena of clinical investigation, and translating the results of clinical trials into changes in clinical practice, informed by evidence from the social and political sciences. It has several phases:

“It investigates and translates non-clinical research results into clinical applications and tests their safety and efficacy in a Phase 1 clinical trial.The concept arose from research into pharmacotherapy and formed the initial basis for evidence-based practice and clinical guidelines, now incorporated into Translational Medicine. In the case of drug discovery and development, translational research typically refers to the translation of non-human research finding, from the laboratory and from animal studies, intotherapies for patients. This is often called “bench to bedside”. pharmaceutical companies and contract research organisations have a translational medicine division to facilitate the interaction between basic research and clinical medicine to design and conduct clinical trials….”

As I mentioned above, this kind of talk went on for about 15 minutes. I don’t know if anybody in the car, other than Judy, understood a word she said, but it sure sounded impressive. 

At this point, she took a breath. And that’s when Steve asked a pertinent question.

“So, will you get to carry a gun?”

I immediately pulled over to the far right lane because the tears were blurring my vision and it was getting hard to see well enough to drive safely…

Meanwhile Judy, completely unable to process what had just happened, sat in stunned silence for the next 22.3 miles, wondering what it was that she said that would cause everybody to laugh so long and hard…

And my stomach still hurts…


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