Developing Tomorrow's Cures Today
To improve health as a population, key scientific discoveries must be translated into real-world applications. Such scientific discoveries commonly begin at “the bench” with basic research in which scientists study various diseases at the molecular level.
These findings then progress to the clinical or “bedside” level. Translational research takes key discoveries from the bench, applies them to the clinic and then returns them back to the bench forming a complementary and dynamic cycle. The goal of translational research is to improve patient care.
In the Department of Urology at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, faculty and staff are committed to discovering how pathogenesis occurs and how to better treat it. Researchers utilize the latest technologies in state-of-the-art laboratories and hospitals to perform outstanding translational research.
One of the federally funded translational research projects being performed uses selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). SERMs have been used previously to treat breast cancer and osteoporosis. However, the effects of SERMs in urological tissues are less clear.
Dr. William Ricke, the lead investigator in the SERM project, and his colleagues are working from the bench to determine how estrogens promote cancer and other diseases in mice. Specifically, Dr. Ricke and his team are evaluating how various estrogens bind to specific estrogen receptors to cause and promote urologic diseases, and how therapeutic SERMs may be used to interfere with this process.
Future clinical trials using SERMs in prevention of cancer progression are being planned. Over the past seven years, Dr. Ricke’s laboratory has led the study of estrogens in urologic pathologies. Through translational research, his team believes they can make breakthroughs more quickly and start clinical trials to validate their preclinical findings.
According to Dr. Ricke, “Translational research is a must to curing and preventing disease. Clinical departments such as the Department of Urology are at the forefront of translational research.”
The accomplishments and efforts of the urology translational research teams are a cornerstone to the Department’s research efforts. UW Health physicians have treated and cured many patients throughout the region and world and are developing tomorrow’s cures today. As such, the Department of Urology research funding continues to increase and many of our researchers have both federal and private funding. Many of the Department’s translational researchers and faculty are also world leaders in the field of urology.