Translation Innovation

Meet Christina Thomas-Virnig, PHD

Dr. Thomas-Virnig (pictured at left) is the translational research facilitator — a new role within the department — helping UW–Madison remain one of the premier clinical research institutions in the country. Her work includes advancing ongoing studies and trials currently in development, in addition to partnering with clinicians to pursue research efforts to identify new therapies for treating eye diseases and studies of the basic mechanisms behind eye diseases. Below, we talk to her about her goals for her role in the department.

What are your hopes for this role at UW?

I want to take the innovative research discoveries and ideas from the bench into the clinic. I have a robust understanding of the stages of therapeutic development, from inception to clinical testing and hope to provide guidance, and facilitate collaboration amongst faculty, staff and learners.

What will your initial focus areas include?

The stages of testing and development encompass a complex array of steps. At each stage, funding must be secured to facilitate entry into the next stage of development. Working in concert with other disciplines is critical for creating change and moving ideas forward, so I hope to promote these interactions and act as a resource for those pursuing this pathway. A starting point is an appreciation of the active research being done in the department and how these ideas may eventually help in patient care. The importance of cross-campus collaboration is being recognized by UW–Madison through investment in several recent programs that foster these interdisciplinary relationships and I anticipate that the department will also benefit from them.

How do you envision patients benefitting from this new role?

The ultimate goal of my work is to assist in the enhancement of human health and quality of life. The decision making process should always have patients at the forefront of the idea. In the short term, I think we have innovative ideas that will impact clinical trials in the near future. In the long term, I hope these ideas will take hold and become standards in the field to aid in patient outcomes.