Francesco Marincola is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Translational Medicine, which aims to ‘optimise the communication between basic and clinical science’ – a challenge Marincola is well-suited to tackle having both trained as a surgical oncologist and built a successful career in translational research. Marincola told us about some of the challenges translational research faces as well as some of the important steps forward the field has seen.
Newly appointed as inaugural Chief Research Officer of Sidra Medical and Research Center in Qatar, a new enterprise aimed at linking basic and clinical research to improve patient care, Marincola continues to actively advance and promote translational medicine.
“I realised during my [medical] training that the more complicated the problem was, the bigger the intervention was and the less the chance of a favorable outcome. […] I realised there was a big dissociation between the elegant research that provides new ideas and concepts and what the true problem is that we are facing.”
“There are examples of success in using translational approaches. I wish there were more.”
Francesco Marincola, Sidra Medical and Research Center
Following his medical training, first at the University of Milan and then at Stanford University where he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in surgical research, Marincola joined the surgical oncology branch of the NIH National Cancer Institute, USA. He went on to become Chief of the Infectious Disease and Immunogenetics Section, as well as a tenured NIH senior investigator. During his career at NIH Marincola has contributed extensively to translational medical research, resulting in over 17,000 citations to date, pursuing a particular interest in tumor immunology.
“A primary interest of mine is tumor rejection and how we can use that to treat cancer. […] There is obvious evidence, at least in principle, that new treatments increase survival, sometimes based on very simple manipulations of the immune system.”
Although many challenges exist in linking basic and medical research, from both sides of the divide, Marincola is hopeful that he will be able to “achieve the dream of doing integrated research and producing clinically relevant research”. Whilst embarking on an initiative to develop translational research into medical conditions affecting women and children in the Arab world at Sidra, Marincola also continues to serve as President of the International Society for Translational Medicine and President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer – the latter of which recently started a new open access journal with BioMed Central.