Scientific Investigation Track

The largest and broadest areas of Scholarship & Discovery are encompassed by the Scientific Investigation Track, which involves three different areas of scientific research as outlined below. Pritzker students have a long history of participating in Scientific Investigation in one of these areas under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Each Scientific Investigation Track also has faculty Track Leaders who guide students through the scholarly process specific to each field of study.

  • Basic Sciences encompass research that investigates core scientific concepts or pathways and is often done with animals, cell lines, or tissues. Research in basic science seeks to further human knowledge about the world and pave the way for more applied research.
  • Clinical Research is characterized by research with patients or with data obtained from patients. Typically, the researcher (or team member) directly interacts with human subjects.  Clinical research projects could aim to understand mechanisms of human disease, therapeutic interventions, and/or the development of new technologies.
  • Social Sciences are defined by the use of a variety of social science theory or methods (ethics, economics, public policy, psychology, etc.) to apply to the study of a clinically relevant problem. For the purposes of Scholarship & Discovery, this sub-area also includes projects that relate to health services research, which often draws upon social science disciplines to study health outcomes at an individual, organizational, or population level.

What is Translational Research?

Translational research could refer to research in any of the Tracks above that aim to bridge research findings from one phase of research to another. Because translational research could be used appropriately to refer to a broad array of scholarly projects and tracks, we have not labeled any specific track as “translational” but anticipate that each area of Scientific Investigation may have projects in different stages of the translational process below. For those wishing to learn more, the University of Chicago is home to the ITM Institute for Translational Medicine which is an NIH-sponsored CTSA (Clinical Translational Science Award)

The 4 defined phases of translational research are as follows:

  • T1 Bench to Bedside: Does a treatment that has been developed in the lab setting work in a small clinical trial?
  • T2 Bedside to Clinical Research: Does the treatment that has worked in smaller clinical trials work in studies of larger patient populations?
  • T3 Clinical Research to Practice: Does a certain treatment that has worked in research work in a real-world setting.
  • T4 Practice to Policy: What is the best method to deliver this treatment to patients with a nationwide policy?

How do the Scientific Investigation Tracks Relate to the Summer Research Program?

The “SRP Pathway” in Scholarship & Discovery allows students to use the work that they start through the highly subscribed Pritzker Summer Research Program as a launchpad for their Scholarship & Discovery work. The Pritzker Summer Research Program is an NIH-funded program that enables students to work in a lab with a mentor during the summer between first and second year. While Summer Research Projects could relate to any track, almost all SRP Projects correspond to a Scientific Investigation Track.  

Students who do not participate in the Pritzker Summer Research Program will conduct scholarly work during the First Year Spring Quarter Elective, during the Second Year one-month Scholarship & Discovery Block, and for up to 3 months in their Fourth Year.  

Examples of Student Work