UCSF training program applies creativity and rigor to implementation science education

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It takes an average of 17 years for medical research to be turned into real world practice. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that’s a really long time. The total percentage of interventions that are actually translated into practical application isn’t great either – only 14%.

Much of this delay is the result of a big gap at the very last stage of translation, where academic knowledge is finally turned into application. Implementation science seeks to address this gap and understand the barriers that lead to it to ultimately encourage the successful implementation of promising medical products and solutions

But to effectively leverage implementation science, researchers need resources beyond journal publications and meeting presentations. The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Implementation Science Training Program aims to provide a more creative and rigorous option for those interested in moving the needle. And with an online training option, the program is available to nearly anyone – even those who work in clinical and public health settings outside the U.S.

The program, launched with the support of the UCSF Clinical & Translational Science Institute and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, is focused on theories and methods relevant to the design of strategies to facilitate uptake of health-related interventions. The program aims to teach scholars to:

  • Identify appropriate health interventions to translate into practice,
  • Design effective and sustainable implementation strategies (across the individual, organizational, and/or policy levels), and
  • Create comprehensive evaluations of intervention implementation strategies.

The courses, which can be taken individually or as part of a certificate program that requires completion of all six courses over 1-2 years, are structured in a way that encourages ‘whole picture’ thinking and helps students apply concepts to develop their own fundable projects and grants.

“What differentiates this program is that it’s theory-informed, but with an eye toward application and design,” said Courtney Lyles, associate director of implementation science at UCSF. “Those involved with the program will actually be progressing their personal proposals and projects along the way.”

UCSF utilizes a small group format within the courses to give individualized attention and encourage collaboration. They are also launching a two-day immersive, in-person course beginning in 2019 to provide further networking and collaboration opportunities.

The program is ideal for scholars who are actively involved in implementing a health intervention or quality improvement program and have some previous research experience (such as recent K awardees), but UCSF encourages people from a broad range of professional settings to get involved: clinical and public health researchers, quality improvement officers or other healthcare administration leadership, and public health and public policy practitioners, among others. 

To learn more about the program, including application deadlines and course fees, visit http://accelerate.ucsf.edu/training/ims-online.


UCSF Implementation Science Training Program faculty leadership:

  • Margaret Handley, PhD, MPH, Professor of Epidemiology
  • Adithya Cattamanchi, MD, MAS, Associate Professor of Medicine
  • Sara Ackerman, PhD, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Courtney Lyles, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine

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