CTSI: A Clinical Research Engine

Saunders Research Building

The Saunders Research Building

Much of the translational research and work on comparative effectiveness takes place through the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, which has comprised a large piece of our research effort for the past five years. Through CTSI we have trained more than 200 researchers and students. This number includes new investigators highly qualified to seek answers about our health, as well as physicians and senior investigators moving into new research fields and refining their skills so they can compete for funding more effectively.

This year, CTSI experienced two milestones. After five years as a virtual center, with people and facilities spread across several campuses, in April CTSI took up residence in its new home, the Saunders Research Building -- one of the first facilities in the nation devoted to clinical and translational research. The building was named in honor of Philip Saunders, a local philanthropist who donated $10 million to further URMC research.

The second milestone came just two months later, when NIH announced that it was funding our institute for another five years. The new funding will amount to more than $21 million to train students and new physicians and scientists how to do research that could lead to new treatments faster than ever before. Besides the direct funding, CTSI allows us to establish a deep foundation of talented individuals who are developing the skills enabling them to tackle whole new areas of research, and who are embarking on pilot projects that in the future will attract dollars to our institution in an increasingly competitive environment. Since its inception, our CTSI has awarded $3 million in pilot grants to research projects which then attracted more than $22 million in external funding.

The organizational plan begun in 2011 includes centers devoted to experimental therapeutics, patient-oriented clinical research, comparative effectiveness research, and community-based participatory research. The comparative effectiveness portion – a crucial step necessary to deliver the fruits of scientific discovery as efficiently as possible to people who will benefit the most – is led by Harriet Kitzman, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research at the School of Nursing. Much of this work takes place through the Center for Research Implementation and Translation, which is serving as a national model for the integration of a school of nursing into a CTSI program.