NIH: Office of Disease Prevention

Medicine: Mind the Gap

Chaos in the Brickyard: Translational Research in 2007

David F. Ransohoff, M.D.
Department of Medicine and Epidemiology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Monday, November 5, 2007
Natcher Conference Center, E1/E2
NIH Campus | Bethesda, Maryland


About the Seminar

“Chaos in the brickyard” refers to a letter[1] 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.

[1] Forscher, BK. Chaos in the Brickyard. Science. 1963 Oct 18; 142(3590): 339.