Call for Abstracts: AAA 2014 Panel on Translational Medicine

Sonya Pritzker's picture

Dear SMA members,

I am putting a panel together on translational medicine for AAA 2014 (see below).  Please email me at if you are interested in participating.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Sonya Pritzker, Ph.D. (UCLA School of Medicine)

Producing an Anthropology of Translation

in Biomedical and Complementary Medical Practice(s)

In biomedicine, the importance of “translation” in the creation of evidence-based medicine (EBM) has, especially in the last 10 years, been highlighted as one of the most critical factors involved in making sure the research being done on the bench (e.g., in the laboratory) has a direct and immediate impact on the clinical practice of medicine happening at the bedside (e.g., in the clinic or hospital), as well as in the broader community.  From this perspective, it means a great deal for researchers to show that the results from their basic science studies or their clinical trials will be translated efficiently into a format that clinicians can draw upon in their daily practice seeing patients. The field of “translational science” has thus sprung up in Clinical Translational Science Centers and Institutes, funded by the National Institutes of Health, across the U.S. Although such centers often provide a physical, social, and virtual space to facilitate collaboration and connection between bench scientists, clinical researchers, bedside practitioners, and community partners in biomedicine, there are still many hurdles that participants face on an everyday basis as they struggle to negotiate a viable “translational” process. In complementary and alternative medical settings, some of the same types of challenges result from the need to translate both research and theoretical information, often in other languages, into clinical practice.

In this panel, we take an anthropological approach to translation in medical settings, including educational, clinical, and community settings. Drawing from work in the anthropology of translation more generally, where scholars have shown translation to be an ongoing, dialogic, and embodied process of meaning-making, we do not limit our discussion to the biomedical milieu. Instead, we include a range of discussions examining translation in various medical contexts, including (TBD). In so doing, we highlight the conversations, experiences, and desires that shape the way any medical practice is translated from theory/text/research into everyday moments where healing is expected to occur.

Possible paper topics include:

  • Studies looking at medical interaction in clinical contexts (either interprovider communication or doctor-patient interaction).
  • Studies examining the way medical research is conducted, how results are interpreted and/or shared.
  • The challenges of “translation” in mixed-methods clinical research
  • The socialization/education of clinicians in biomedical and alternative/complementary medical contexts.
  • Physician and/or patient decision-making vis-à-vis available evidence
  • The translational process both “towards” and “from” community settings