Chaos in the Brickyard:
Translational Research in 2007
David F. Ransohoff, M.D.
Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
November 5, 2007
9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Natcher Conference Center, E1/E2
NIH Campus | Bethesda, Maryland
About the Seminar
“Chaos in the brickyard” refers to a letter that appeared in Science in 1963, in which Bernard K. Forscher described scientific research as the building of brick edifices:
“Once upon a time, among the activities and occupations of man there was an activity called scientific research and the performers of this activity were called scientists. In reality however, these men were builders who constructed edifices, called explanations or laws, by assembling bricks, called facts…If the bricks were faulty or if they were assembled badly, the edifice would crumble…”
When investigators from basic and clinical fields collaborate to do translational research, special problems arise in determining whether research results are 'strong'. Examples of current problems will be discussed, along with 'rules of evidence' and broader principles that may help improve translational research.
 Forscher, BK. Chaos in the Brickyard. Science. 1963 Oct 18; 142(3590): 339.
About David F. Ransohoff, M.D.
Dr. Ransohoff is a national leader in rigorous evaluation of research and its clinical application. He received his bachelor’s degree at Harvard College, and his MD at Case Western Reserve University. He completed his medical residency at Dartmouth, and fellowships in clinical epidemiology and gastroenterology through the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar Program at Yale University and the University of Chicago, respectively. He is currently professor of medicine and clinical professor of epidemiology, and director of the Clinical Research Curriculum at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Dr. Ransohoff’s primary research interest is in improved methods of colon cancer screening. He has published extensively on the use of colonoscopy screening and surveillance, fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, and virtual colonoscopy; his most recent work concerns stool DNA testing, serum proteomics, and the development and assessment of other new ‘omics’ methods to screen for cancer.
Working with NCI's EDRN (Early Detection Research Network) and others, he is leading a multi-center study about serum proteomics to diagnose colon cancer. At UNC he has directed the K30 faculty development program since its inception in 1999, helping train junior faculty build careers in clinical and translational research.
Over the years, Dr. Ransohoff has contributed his expertise to numerous advisory boards and committees at the NIH and FDA. He has served as a panel member for three conferences conducted under the NIH Consensus Development Program, most recently as panel chair of last year's State-of-the-Science Conference on Tobacco Use: Prevention, Cessation, and Control.
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