Following the conference, Professor Roberts organised for international guests Steven McGee from NeoGenesis and Tina Viney from APAN to view the amazing work of the Translational Research Institute (TRI) based in Brisbane.

TRI is a truly unique state-of-the-art institution and a world-renowned global leader in the effective translation of research and innovation into improved healthcare.   This impressive modern facility consists of over 800 scientific researchers, clinicians, and partners who are undertaking research to provide solutions for cancer, dermatological disorders, gastroenterology and hepatology, genomics, immunology, metabolomics, and trauma.

What is translational research?

TRI’s mission is to improve the translation of innovative research into clinical practice.  To achieve this, TRI provides world-class research facilities; links to clinicians and clinical trial facilities and expertise, links to industry, government and other funding bodies and an education and training program aimed at producing a skilled workforce for the translational pathway. 

There are a number of approaches to the progression along the translational pathway. One approach begins in the clinic where a new diagnostic or therapy is applied to patients receiving health care, which ultimately leads to evidence to support implementation in the broader patient population. 

Another approach is where a discovery leads to early-stage translation (T1), often in an academic research setting.  

There are several options for progressing from this stage including licensing the development to an existing company or setting up a start-up company and seeking funding.  

The start-up company then takes on the role, usually in collaboration with researchers, of progressing the new diagnostic or therapy to the next stage of the translational pathway (T2 and beyond). 

In Australia, we excel in research discoveries and early-stage translation. However, there is a growing realisation of the immediate need to develop the MedTech manufacturing capability nationally. 

Importantly when new diagnostic and therapeutic discoveries are ready for the clinic, careful implementation and evaluation of such new therapies in the clinic are required.  This is an important and evolving area of medical science called Implementation Science which includes the economic and health economic evaluation of new diagnostics and therapies in clinical care.  

TRI’s partners have significant expertise in the implementation of science and health economics to support the evaluation of new evidence into practice.  The harnessing of clinical, pharmaceutical, hospitalisation and other health-related data is vital in the consideration of new therapies.  

TRI’s partners also have significant knowledge of digital science to support such evaluation.

We were privileged to view some amazing laboratory work in the fight against skin cancer, as well as other forms of cancer. 

We met associate Professor Fiona Simpson, PhD, Principal Fellow of the Queensland Head and Neck Cancer Centre, who runs a lot of animal and human trials in our area of skin cancer. 

It was amazing to see the cancer cells being blasted.

Professor Simpson shared with us the liberating experience as cancer patients are allowed to view this process of seeing their cancer cells being destroyed.

We also met several of Professor Roberts’ PhD students that he is currently mentoring and the future leaders in investigative research.

What these studies can mean for our industry?

As far as our industry is concerned, the new microscopes can identify with greater detail, both activity and efficacy of active ingredients.

As the science of skincare technology becomes more sophisticated and new pathways of penetration and efficacy are identified, we will progressively discover novel new ways that ingredients can translate into resolving some of the more stubborn skin conditions. 

If these methodologies can be delivered through non-drug-related ingredients this will potentially provide excellent skincare solutions.

It will indeed open an exciting new era in skin and age management, and we look forward to these advances and new breakthroughs that will benefit our industry.