Welcome to Navigating the Ecosystem of Translational Science (NETS). This web-based map and its associated toolkits are designed to both educate and empower participation in translational research.
As part of Genetic Alliance’s mission to improve human health through partnerships and community engagement, we are committed to transforming the process of developing new therapies. We created NETS with the goal of providing a map of the drug development process and making the tools that currently exist more accessible by compiling them into user-friendly toolkits.
To learn more about translational research and how Genetic Alliance is helping to engage the community, check out our Accelerating Translational Research webpage.
NETS is a dynamic, interactive map that is intended to provide a realistic view of drug development. Unlike the overly simplistic and unrealistic linear pipeline model, the NETS map portrays drug development for what it actually is: a complex system of interconnected elements. Each of the components displayed on the map links to a ‘toolkit’ of resources helpful for understanding and executing that process.
NETS is a map with five main functions:
- To create a more realistic model of the drug development process for neophytes from a diversity of stakeholder groups, including both basic researchers and advocacy leaders.
- To provide stakeholders with educational resources about each of the processes that feed into drug development.
- To highlight the ‘on ramps’ where stakeholders can become more involved.
- To showcase stories of how others have become more involved in drug development.
- To coalesce existing tools and resources for engaging in translational research.
Drug development is a complex process that, if it is to be accelerated, should involve numerous stakeholders including individuals affected by disease, disease advocacy organizations, academic researchers, government agencies, and industry. Currently only a small fraction of the stakeholders are engaged in the process. For example, disease advocacy organizations and the communities they represent are often eager to participate in research, but can have difficulty identifying ways to leverage their resources to accelerate drug development. Likewise, many basic researchers who are interested in expanding their research portfolio to include translational research projects can have difficulty identifying the best way to do so. A birds-eye view of the drug development process will help individuals and organizations discover various on-ramps to join in the process.
NETS is designed for neophyte individuals and organizations looking to become more engaged in translational research, including advocacy leaders and basic scientists. We have purposefully included a variety of tools that will be helpful for users at all levels and from a variety of backgrounds. This is a community resource, and so we welcome additions, comments, and questions.
The NETS map is organized into five ‘neighborhoods’ or communities of related processes.
- Basic Science
- Therapeutic Discovery
- Non-Clinical Research & Development
- Clinical Research
- Regulatory Requirements
There are two different ways to view the NETS map: the neighborhood view and the full view.
The neighborhood view is a simplified version of the full map that includes the 3-5 most critical components of each neighborhood. It highlights the many of the ‘on-ramps’ where stakeholders can become more involved. It is a great place to start if the full view seems to overwhelming to begin with.
The full view provides a more comprehensive and detailed view of translational research. In each neighborhood the darkened boxes highlight places that are good ‘on ramps’ where newcomers to translational research can become involved.
In both maps simply click on any of the boxes to open the toolkit for that point on the map.
View the NETS map using the ‘neighborhood’ view or ‘full’ view - whatever feels right for you (see ‘How is NETS organized?’ for a description of these two different views of the map). If you find that you are not familiar with a point on the map, simply place your cursor on that box and a basic definition or description will appear.
Click on any of the boxes to open up the toolkit for that point on the map. Each toolkit contains a variety of different types of tools that are relevant to the particular topic. An example of what a toolkit looks like is shown below.
All of the tools in the toolkits are organized into one of four dropdown categories:
- What is it and why is it important for drug development? The section is a great place to start if you are not familiar with this point on the map. It provides a brief description of each point on the map and why it is important for drug development. Additional resources that provide an introduction and explanation are also included in this section.
- Testimonials: How we did it. Within this section you’ll find presentations from groups and individuals that have experience with this point on the map. Throughout the map there are testimonials from others who’ve been there and can offer the perspective on how they got there, what the process is like, and any thoughts they’d have on doing things differently.
- Relevant Publications. In this section you’ll find publications – scholarly, guides, websites – that are relevant to the topic at hand. Unlike the material presented in the “What is it and why is it important?” section, this material is more advanced and presupposes users have some familiarity with the topic. The material listed in this section is by no means comprehensive – please submit ideas for additional material to include to email@example.com.
- Related Tools. This section contains a variety of resources – from databases to guidelines and partnership opportunities – to help users become engaged. The tools included in this section are relevant to a broad range of users including both advocacy leaders and scientists.
The type of tools included on each page varies – we have included everything from guides and scholarly publications to courses and partnership opportunities. Every map needs a good key. The tools on each toolkit are color-coded to indicate the type of tool.
Yes, we’d love to hear from you. We are continually looking for ways to both expand and improve the NETS tool. Please send your comments and/or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also seeking funding to design and code NETS for greater interactivity, and enable it to become modifiable in a similar manner to a wiki.