Investment in biomedical research has fueled the development of new medical technologies (i.e., drugs, diagnostic methods, drug delivery systems, and medical devices). Herewith, astonishing medical advances have been achieved, with stimulation of high-wage job growth and economic health.
Public investments have been an important enabler of biomedical research and development (R&D). Between 2007 and 2012, the United States contributed the largest share of total global public sector expenditures (circa 52%), followed by Europe (circa 27%) and Asia-Oceania (circa 18%). The private sector has even shouldered a larger proportion of biomedical R&D expenditure, on balance approximately 64% of overall spending (Chakma et al., 2014).
In order for societies to enjoy the expected benefits of these investments fully, biomedical research findings have to be moved from “bench to bedside” and into the community (Rubio et al., 2010). Motivated by the assertion that a time lag of circa 17 years for research evidence to reach clinical practice is unnecessarily long, the concept of translational research has attracted large interest from both public and private parties (Balas and Boren, 2008; Contopoulous-Ioannidis et al.; 2008, Trochim et al.; 2011; Westfall et al., 2007).
Various countries established programs to incentivize translational research. A widely known example is the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US. In the Netherlands, the Center for Translational Molecular Medicine (CTMM) was established in 2008. It was born out of recognition by academia, industry, and the Dutch government that translating fundamental research into patient benefit and economic activity requires a truly multidisciplinary end-to-end approach that involves all parties in the value chain. The public–private partnership, including universities, academic hospitals, and pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, aims to accelerate molecular diagnostics and imaging technologies to enable determination of predisposition, early diagnosis, and personalized treatment of patients.
Ultimately, CTMM aspires to reduce mortality, morbidity, as well as health care costs significantly, by funding translational research projects in high-burden disease areas. With a total research budget of circa €300 million, including 50% government, 25% university, and 25% commercial funding, CTMM was one of the first and largest public–private biomedical research partnerships internationally. Herewith the need arose to assess its impact. The key findings regarding CTMM's scientific, translational, clinical, and economic impact, as achieved 5 years after becoming operational in 2008, are described in this report.
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