Upon arriving at IUPUI in 2003, Professor Sandra Petronio (my wife) and I were immediately struck by IUPUI's distinctive focus on research that makes a difference in people's everyday lives.
While it is not uncommon for research at urban universities to have a translational character, IUPUI's predilection for translating research into practice was on a scale broader and deeper than any other campus we had seen.
Broader because of the wide spectrum of practice-based professional education that is offered here, and deeper because of the tradition of civic engagement that is integral to IUPUI. In addition, the collaboration engendered by the coexistence of Indiana University and Purdue University programs on campus—and a commitment to our third partner, Indianapolis—has yielded both powerful cross-disciplinary partnerships, such as biomedical engineering, and wide community impact.
Recognizing a somewhat hidden treasure, Sandra and I launched the Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) initiative with the intention to make IUPUI's culture of translational research better known.
Sandra has been a champion of translational research in her academic discipline (communication) for more than a decade. She envisions TRIP as a catalyst both for promoting IUPUI's translational character and for developing an infrastructure to encourage and support work by faculty interested in discoveries that yield solutions.
With underwriting by the Chancellor's Circle, Project Leader Sandra Petronio and Managing Director Stephan Viehweg launched the first TRIP program on October 15, 2007—a panel discussion featuring five translational scholars that took place as part of IUPUI's contribution to the inauguration of IU President Michael McRobbie. Last year, J. Dennis Fortenberry, M.D., joined the TRIP team as a Chancellor's Faculty Fellow to help secure funding, broker research collaborations, and organize data about translational research at IUPUI. His own translational research involves public health policy in the area of adolescent health.
Since the TRIP Initiative began, more than 100 faculty have identified themselves as translational scholars.
It is noteworthy that many of our newest faculty members appear to have been attracted to IUPUI specifically because of the ability to conduct urban research with translational implications. This follows a national trend of younger scholars whose research intentionally seeks to apply research evidence to current needs—thus solving problems and informing decision makers.
Assistant Professor of Sociology Tamara Leech conducts research on violence, sex, and other risky behaviors among black urban adolescents. Her work has informed practice locally and nationally, including the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's community policing efforts and neighborhood associations' actions to curb youth problem behavior. Dr. Leech was selected a 2010 Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Career Enhancement Fellow, a funding program intended for junior faculty, and was one of only twenty scholars nationwide to receive the award.
Assistant Professor of Psychology and Pediatrics Matthew Aalsma researches ways to link youth in the juvenile justice system to the medical and mental health care they need for successful reentry into community life.
Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences Samiran Ghosh is a quantitative scientist who collaborates with biologists, physicians, and others on projects related to bioinformatics and biostatistics. Recently, he worked with Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy Patricia Scott on quality-of-life assessments before and after liver transplantation surgery.
These and many other examples of translating research into practice appear on the TRIP web site. And mark your calendars now for the jointly sponsored IUPUI TRIP/ IUPUI Solution Center inaugural Distinguished Speaker Series, presenting Michael A. Evans, Ph.D., on January 24, 2011, 4:30-6:30pm, in the IUPUI Campus Center, Room 450, 420 University Boulevard. Dr. Evans is founder and CEO of AIT, one of the leading forensic toxicology labs in the nation. It's free and open to the public. Register here.
For information about giving to the Chancellor's Circle or TRIP-related projects during the IUPUI IMPACT Campaign, contact the IU Foundation Indianapolis Office.