Clinical translation

Clinical translation

Clinician scientist with patient
Our research aims to improve health outcomes. Clinical translation converts basic research discoveries into better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease. We are facilitating linkages between clinicians and laboratory researchers, and supporting clinical research.

Our clinical translation

We are committed to harnessing the talent of our researchers to deliver real healthcare improvements. Our Clinical Translation Centre fosters linkages between our laboratory researchers and clinicians.

Key aspects of our clinical translation program are:

  • Supporting the involvement of clinician-scientists in our research programs, including through research training and education programs.
  • Enabling our researchers’ involvement in the development, delivery and evaluation of clinical trials
  • Facilitating the collection and analysis of human samples for approved research

More than 100 current clinical trials are based on discoveries made at WEHI.

What is clinical translation?

Clinical translation is research that leads to better understanding of disease, and/or development of new diagnostic tests or treatments.

Clinical translation may involve:

  • Measuring the impact of a new strategy to prevent, treat or diagnose a disease in humans, using a clinical trial.
  • Analysing human samples, such as those taken from people with a certain disease.
  • Matching the genetic information (genome sequence) of a patient with features of their disease.

How do laboratory discoveries reach the clinic?

Many discoveries that have benefited the health of the community arose from basic laboratory research. Understanding how molecules, cells and tissues normally function gives insights into what goes wrong in disease.

Discovering how a disease develops can lead to new ways to prevent, treat and diagnose that disease. These are collectively called ‘interventions’.

Preclinical studies are used to test a proposed intervention in the laboratory, using patient samples or models that are similar to the diseased cells.

Clinical trials enable testing of the new intervention in people who have volunteered for the trial. Most clinical trials are conducted in stages:

Phase I: Tests the safety of the intervention in a small number of people, and whether the intervention works as intended.
Phase II: Determines how well the intervention can work.
Phase III: Uses a larger group of people to measure the overall benefits of the new intervention, comparing it with no intervention, or other existing interventions.

If an intervention shows success through all the stages of a clinical trial, it may then need government approval before it is available to the public. In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration assesses the outcomes of clinical trials to approve new treatments, diagnostic tests or other interventions.

It often takes years or decades for a laboratory discovery to be translated into an improvement in healthcare. The successful outcomes of clinical trials requires:

  • The intervention to be effective and improve health outcomes.
  • Funding for the significant costs of conducting clinical trials. This is why many clinical trials are conducted with investment from pharmaceutical companies.

Who can participate in research?

Research participants are integral to clinical translation. These people must be:

  • Willing to participate and able to attend a study or trial location.
  • Fully informed about what their participation involves including any foreseeable risks.
  • Aware of their rights to withdraw from the study.
  • Eligible to participate in the study by meeting specified criteria, such as clinical diagnosis, medical history, or age.

Information about current clinical trials is available from:

By joining the Volunteer Blood Donor Registry you can contribute to medical research aimed at preventing, treating and curing disease.

Governance of clinical translation

All research at WEHI that involves people is overseen by our Human Research Ethics Committee. The committee’s operation is approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and conforms to the NHMRC National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans (2007)

Translational research at WEHI is facilitated by our Clinical Translation Standing Committee. This committee:

  • Provides advice on translational and clinical research.
  • Assists with the operation of the Clinical Translation Centre.
  • Contributes to the recruitment and support of medically qualified researchers at WEHI.

Consumer involvement

Wherever possible, we aim to involve ‘consumers’ in our research. A consumer is a person who has been affected by a disease. They may have:

  • Suffered the disease themselves or
  • Cared for a family member or friend with the disease.

The conduct of medical research can be improved by considering consumers’ personal and professional experiences. This can:

  • Strengthen medical research design.
  • Improve the communication of results to the community.
  • Ensure research addresses questions that are important for consumers.
  • Educate researchers to understand their disease fully from a consumer point of view.

Our Consumer Advisory Panel has been established to better connect our research with community experiences of disease and consumer expectations. 

Clinician-scientist training

WEHI offers specialised research training programs for clinicians and medical students. These include short-term placements as well as degree programs such as clinician PhD training. Learn more


Associate Professor Sumitra Ananda

Associate Professor Sumitra Ananda at the Institute
Associate Professor
Clinical Research Fellow

Dr Mary Ann Anderson

Dr Mary Ann Anderson in the lab
Mary Ann
Clinician scientist

Dr Rory Bowden

Dr Rory Bowden photographed smiling at the camera
Genomics Laboratory Head and Centre Manager, WEHI Advanced Genomics Facility

Dr Anna Coussens

Dr Anna Coussens in a laboratory
Laboratory Head

Dr Gwo Yaw Ho

Dr Gwo Yaw Ho in the lab
Gwo Yaw
Clinician Scientist

Professor Geoff Lindeman

Professor Geoffrey Lindeman in the lab
Joint Division Head

Professor Andrew Roberts

Professor Andrew Roberts in the lab
Laboratory Head; Joint Leader, Cancer Research and Treatments Theme

Professor Clare Scott

Professor Clare Scott AM
Joint Division Head

Professor Jeanne Tie

Professor Jeanne Tie at her desk
Clinical Research Fellow

Associate Professor Ben Tran

Associate Professor Ben Tran in a consulting office
Associate Professor
Clinical Research Fellow

Associate Professor Rosie Watson

Associate Professor Rosie Watson
Associate Professor
Joint Laboratory Head

Professor Ian Wicks

Ian Wicks
Joint Division Head, Laboratory Head

Associate Professor Nawaf Yassi

Associate Professor Nawaf Yassi
Associate Professor
Joint Laboratory Head
Two female researchers outside a laboratory

Clinician scientists Associate Professor Jeanne Tie and Associate Professor Sumitra Ananda are leading trials of a blood test to guide cancer treatment after surgery.

Venetoclax trial participants

Professor Andrew Roberts and collaborators have shown that patients with an advanced form of leukaemia can achieve complete remission with a novel tablet treatment.