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Founding director John Eckenrode and others discuss the mission of the BCTR and the legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner


BCTR director Karl Pillemer on translational research


The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) in the College of Human Ecology (CHE) capitalizes on one of the most dynamic and exciting recent developments in the scientific community: the new emphasis on translational research (TR) as a means to more closely link the twin missions of research and outreach. TR is the systematic movement of research findings into the development of innovative interventions, practices, and policies that may ultimately improve health and well-being, and also the use of knowledge derived from interventions, practices, and policies to inform research. We envision a bi-directional pathway between scientific research and community practice, bridging these two realms in more effective ways. The BCTR was named in honor of Cornell’s renowned developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, who pioneered a multidisciplinary and translational approach to human development and helped create the federal Head Start program.

The Bronfenbrenner Center fosters research to understand and discover solutions to human problems across multiple levels of analysis (individual, interpersonal, community, organizational, governmental), as well as to identify, evaluate, and disseminate evidence-based and cost-efficient practices and programs. The BCTR focuses on research that informs policy issues and debates. Further, we engage stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels in more effective partnerships with CHE researchers. In these efforts, the Bronfenbrenner Center responds to the call in the University Strategic Plan to “strongly connect extension and outreach to on-campus research and educational strengths.”

The BCTR strives to be:

  • An incubator of translational research projects in the social and behavioral sciences at Cornell
  • An innovator for new TR methods
  • A focal point for CHE extension and outreach activities
  • An engine for major funding of multidisciplinary collaborative efforts
  • A model for involving undergraduate and graduate students in TR activities
  • A link to other colleges within Cornell and to the Weill Cornell Medical College for joint activities

Examples of TR activities promoted by the BCTR include:

  • Efforts to integrate translational perspectives into basic research, by encouraging innovative research designs with practical applications in mind, and by integrating practitioner perspectives that enhance effective translation.
  • Systematic reviews of the scientific literature to inform new research and guide practitioners and decision-makers.
  • The development and rigorous testing of interventions to promote healthy development and change unhealthy trajectories.
  • Community outreach and community participation in behavioral science research on risk and protective factors, prevention research, and the development of interventions.
  • Research on the implementation, dissemination and sustainability of evidence-based programs, practices, and guidelines.
  • Research and development on the translational process itself, studying how best to move research findings into practice and policy.