CINCINNATI—The University of Cincinnati (UC) and its affiliated health care partners will receive nearly $23 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bring innovations from the laboratory bench to the bedside and to applications within the community.
The five-year funding, awarded through the NIH’s institutional Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, will be used to support programming within UC’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST). Established in 2005 as a collaborative effort among UC, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University Hospital and the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the CCTST is a research resource and "academic home” for clinical and translational scientists and programs.
UC is the first CTSA to be funded in 2009.
"Bench to bedside (translational research) is a common phrase in medicine, and turning laboratory findings into diagnostic tools or therapies for patients is the goal of academic medical centers,” said David Stern, MD, College of Medicine dean and UC vice president for health affairs. "The CTSA program is a clear recognition by the NIH of the need to speed up the translation of the important work happening at the basic scientific level, and UC’s award is indicative of the quality of scientific discovery happening on our campus and in the labs of our close partners.”
CTSA funding—expected to be given to only 60 institutions nationwide by 2012—will eventually replace the NIH’s General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) program and various other training programs.
UC’s NIH-supported GCRC, housed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, with a satellite operation at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is led by James Heubi, MD, of Cincinnati Children’s and UC’s department of pediatrics, and associate dean for clinical and translational research, and is credited with many research successes. UC faculty and Cincinnati Children’s and VA researchers working in the GCRC have been at the forefront of Reye’s Syndrome and Gaucher disease, and have used novel medications to treat rare diseases such as lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and Fanconi anemia.
"Successes already realized at our NIH-supported clinical research center are strong indicators of what Cincinnati researchers and clinicians will be able to do with continued support and an emphasis on translational research,” said Heubi, who leads UC’s CTSA effort and the CCTST with Joel Tsevat, MD, professor of medicine and associate dean for clinical and translational research.
Heubi and Tsevat expect to continue what’s been started with the CCTST and initiate additional partnerships that can help bring discoveries to application or engage the broader community in clinical and translational research efforts.
"The formation of the CCTST on UC’s campus more than three years ago has put us in a unique position to hit the ground running with this CTSA award,” says Tsevat. "Beyond serving our Academic Health Center, though, we plan to involve the community in clinical and translational research. Not only will we work to increase enrollment for our clinical studies, but we will also turn to the community for research topics. We envision a bi-directional relationship with the community.”
UC’s CCTST already offers research support, including study design and biostatistical expertise, individual and institutional training grant preparation assistance, clinical and translational research training, and funding opportunities for junior faculty so that they can develop their research programs and become viable candidates for larger awards from the NIH or other sources.
The CCTST has also helped departments obtain NIH training grants to support fellowship positions. Six of the 22 funded "T32” training grants on campus were obtained with CCTST assistance.
In addition to funding assistance, the CCTST—located on the 10th floor of Cincinnati Children’s new "S” building—is working to track clinical and translational activity and create an environment for researchers that facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration. The center’s Research Central service provides investigators with consultations on their study design and execution of research projects.
The center also serves the university’s educational mission—helping to form the recently approved master of science in clinical and translational research program through UC’s environmental health department.
The governance committee leading UC’s CTSA effort includes Stern, Heubi and Tsevat, as well as James Anderson, president and CEO of Cincinnati Children’s; Sandra Degen, PhD, UC vice president for research; Lee Ann Liska, executive director of University Hospital; Linda Smith, director of the Cincinnati VA Medical Center; Arnold Strauss, MD, chair of UC’s department of pediatrics and director of the Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation; and UC President Nancy Zimpher.
For more information about the CTSA Consortium, visit www.ctsaweb.org. To read more about clinical and translational research at UC, visit www.cctst.uc.edu. A news release from the National Center for Research Resources can be found at http://www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2009/ncrr-07.htm.
The University of Cincinnati is one of 39 medical research institutions working together as a national consortium to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA), shares a common vision to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, and to engage communities in clinical research efforts. It is also fulfilling the critical need to train clinical and translational researchers. The CTSA initiative is led by the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health. For more information about the CTSA program, visit www.ncrr.nih.gov/crctsa.