Background: The paradigm of translational medicine that underpins frameworks such as the Cooksey report on the funding of health research does not adequately reflect the complex reality of the public health environment. We therefore outline a translational framework for public health research.
Discussion: Our framework redefines the objective of translation from that of institutionalising effective interventions to that of improving population health by influencing both individual and collective determinants of health. It incorporates epidemiological perspectives with those of the social sciences, recognising that many types of research may contribute to the shaping of policy, practice and future research. It also identifies a pivotal role for evidence synthesis and the importance of non-linear and intersectoral interfaces with the public realm.
Summary: We propose a research agenda to advance the field and argue that resources for 'applied' or 'translational' public health research should be deployed across the framework, not reserved for 'dissemination' or 'implementation'.