National Institute of Nursing Research Has Widened the Blue Highway of Translation Research

By Stevens, Kathleen R. | Research and Theory for Nursing Practice, October 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

National Institute of Nursing Research Has Widened the Blue Highway of Translation Research


Stevens, Kathleen R., Research and Theory for Nursing Practice


Congratulations to the authors for clearly connecting the grand achievements and potential in nursing science to contemporary health research needs, specifically the need to advance translational science. Woods and Magyary (2010) aptly underscore the quality improvement barriers created by restricted pathways between efficacy research and broad utilization of evidence to improve clinical decision making. It was these narrow "blue highways" (Westfall, Mold, & Fagnan, 2007) that precipitated the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to reinvent major portions of the health research enterprise in the 2004 NIH Roadmap, using Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) as a key design. With this letter, I briefly describe activities that match the authors' recommendations and highlight recent activities already set in motion.

Now only 7 years after the NIH Roadmap, nurse scientists are building a new infrastructure with significant funding from National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)/NIH. This new structure is intended to be our super highway as a national research network in translational science. This entity, the Improvement Science Research Network (ISRN, n.d.; Fohn, 2009), directly addresses Woods and Magyary's (2010) wise recommendation that nursing "magnify . . . efforts to seek out and obtain funding to support nursing's leadership and participation in collaborative endeavors through practice-based translational research networks that are interdisciplinary or primarily focused on nursing" (p. 20).

The ISRN proposal was a response to NIH Request for Applications (RFA) Number RFA-OD-09-004, Recovery Act Limited Competition for NIH Grants: Research and Research Infrastructure "Grand Opportunities" (RC2). To the great benefit of nursing, the NINR was a participating organization, providing opportunity for nurses to lead in collaborative, practice-based research. The RFA called for projects "to support high impact ideas that lend themselves to short-term funding, and may lay the foundation for new fields of investigation" (NIH Grants Guide, 2009). With opportunity for large budgets (minimum of $1 million per year for 2 years), these were known as "Grand Opportunity" or "GO" grants. The NIH requested novel approaches in areas that addressed specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods that would benefit from an influx of funds to quickly advance the area in significant ways. Applicants were requested to propose either a specific research question or propose the "creation of a unique infrastructure/resource designed to accelerate scientific progress in the future" (NIH Grants Guide, 2009). The ISRN proposed the latter.

With the NIH/NINR funding, the ISRN has become a national research infrastructure that provides a test bed for the nascent field of improvement science (Fohn, 2009). Because of the very nature of health care improvement, the ISRN is interprofessional; because of the very nature of health care systems, it is decidedly nursing focused. It offers a research coordinating center with a solid foundation in the decade-old Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice (ACE). Key strategies include harnessing the energy created by the improvement and patient safety movements and capturing the motion created by the emphasis on clinical excellence such as the Magnet Recognition Program. The ISRN capitalizes on the core values of CTSAs, including community engagement through academic-practice partnership and commitment of moving knowledge through T1, T2, T3, and so forth. In addition, the ISRN honors the need for rigor in quality improvement testing (Berenholtz, Needham, Lubomski, Goeschel, & Pronovost, 2010) by applying scientific standards to the evaluation of improvement strategies. To these ends, the ISRN has accomplished the following: (a) established stakeholder-based research priorities in improvement science, (b) coalesced almost 200 research associates, (c) created a forum for advancing capacity in improvement research methods (Improvement Science Summit), (d) launched three multisite improvement research studies, and (e) crafted a cyber environment for capacity building and conduct of multisite improvement research. …

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National Institute of Nursing Research Has Widened the Blue Highway of Translation Research
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