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New Bronfenbrenner center seeks to link research and policy.

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 30 at Beebe Hall, College of Human Ecology leaders officially opened the new Eronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR), which aims to address pressing human needs by linking social and behavioral scientists with community practitioners and policy experts.

Named for famed researcher Urie Bronfenbrenner, a co-founder of the national Head Start program and a world-renowned developmental psychologist who died in 2005, the BCTR formed July 1 with the merger of two longstanding Cornell centers: the Family Life Development Center and the Bron fenbrenner Life Course Center. Its new mission is to extend research-based knowledge to test and strengthen community-based programs, practices, and policies, according to BCTR director John Eckenrode.

"In the spirit of its namesake, the new Eronfenbrenner Center will bridge the gap between research and practice, helping to solve a problem that exists both at Cornell and in society at large," said Eckenrode, professor of human development. "Too often, practitioners view research as esoteric and irrelevant, while researchers perceive application as trivial and unscientific."

The BCTR expands the outreach mission of the College of Human Ecology to further emphasize translational research, inviting community members, practitioners, and policymakers as active participants in the discovery process. By connecting researchers with multiple stakeholders, scientists come to understand the community's most urgent needs and develop studies to address those challenges.

"Many programs intended to benefit children, youth, elders, and families are not scientifically tested, and insights from basic research are rarely used systematically to guide the development of new programs," Eckenrode said. "When research is translated into practice, the process is often too slow and unsystematic. It is precisely these problems that translational research is intended to address, and this is where the BCTR will make unique contributions."

More than 50 Cornell social and behavioral scientists, as well as professional and support staff members, are affiliated with the BCTR, which will seek to partner with Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Cornell Office for Research and Evaluation, Weill Cornell Medical College's Clinical and Translational Science Center, the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research, New York 4-H, and many other campus research and training centers.

Examples of BCTR activities include:

* systematic reviews of the scientific literature to inform new research and guide practitioners and decision-makers;

* creation and rigorous testing of interventions to promote healthy development;

* community outreach and community participation in behavioral science research;

* research on the implementation, dissemination, and sustainability of evidence-based programs, practices, and guidelines; and

* research and development on the translational process itself, studying how best to move research findings into practice and policy.

The center will also train the next generation of scholars in translational research methods through coursework and community projects for Cornell undergraduate and graduate students.

Sept. 22-23, the BCTR hosted the third biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, with speakers from across the country presenting research on the event's theme, "The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making."

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Publication:Human Ecology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2011
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