Incorporating scientific advancements into daily clinical practice is a logical and practical process by which to improve the quality of care provided to people with diabetes. Yet this potentially beneficial approach remains a largely unresolved issue in contemporary medicine. Significant progress has been made through translational research to bring research benefits ‘from bench to bedside’ or, more accurately in this case, ‘from lab to lifestyle’ to the benefit of people with diabetes and those at risk. However, as the author points out, challenges remain. In this article, Juan José Gagliardino describes a novel approach being taken by the International Diabetes Federation via its BRIDGES programme to optimize and diffuse the public health benefits of the translational approach being applied in research projects underway worldwide.