The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has shown the importance of medical research in responding to the urgent prevention and health needs to combat the devastating disease, COVID-19, that this β-coronavirus unleashed. Equally, it has demonstrated the importance of interdisciplinary working to translate scientific discovery into public and patient benefit. As we come to adjust to live with this new virus, it is important to look back and see what lessons we have learnt in the way scientific medical discoveries can be more effectively and rapidly moved into public benefit. Clinical Science has had a long and distinguished history with this Journal bearing the same name and being an important contributor to the rapidly increasing use of human pathobiological data to gain mechanistic understanding of disease mechanisms leading to new diagnostic tests and treatments. The recognition that many complex diseases engage multiple causal pathways that may vary from patient to patient, and at different times across the lifecourse, has led to the emergence of stratified or precision medicine in which the right treatment is given to the right patient at the right time and, in doing so, minimise ‘non-responders’ and off-target side effects. Applications of omics technologies, the digitalisation of biology and the applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are accelerating disease insights at pace with translation of discoveries into new diagnostic tests and treatments. The future of clinical science, as it morphs into translational medicine, is now creating unique possibilities where even the most intractable diseases are now open to being conquered.