A healthy tension in translational research

Author: Dr. Hal Dietz
Date Published: April-2014
Source: The Journal of Clinical Investigation

A somewhat simplistic but nevertheless informative categorization of science collapses the principles employed to two basic approaches: inductive and deductive reasoning. While both seek to derive truth, the former involves an iterative process of hypothesis and refinement based on experimental observation, while the latter applies rigorous logic to derive the inescapable consequences of fundamental principles that are deemed absolute. Given the daunting complexity of biological systems, it remains true that investigators in the biomedical sciences are largely restricted by necessity to the realm of inductive scientific reasoning. Absolute truths, while conceivable, remain elusive and inherently constrained by the nature of the system used to achieve them. Within this discipline, real and (sometimes) important distinctions are made between basic and translational biomedical scientists — those motivated strictly by the pursuit of knowledge versus those with a more practical (i.e., medical) goal in mind.