Saunders Research Building Opens Doors to Health Improvement

New doors to scientific discoveries aimed at improving health were opened on April 8 as URMC cut the ribbon on the Saunders Research Building, the centerpiece of its efforts to infuse fresh treatment and prevention insights into everyday patient care. The building will be a hub for accelerating medical research, increasing access to clinical trials for physicians and their patients, and improving patient care and outcomes.

Saunders Research Building

The facility was named in honor of local businessman E. Philip Saunders for his decades of support for research at URMC.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of a national effort focused on improving care, reducing costs, and breaking down barriers between research in the lab and the lives of people,” said Thomas Pearson, M.D., M.P.H, Ph.D., director of URMC’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. “The CTSB represents a consolidation of our efforts to provide the region’s physicians and their patients with greater access to cutting-edge medicine.”

Constructed with $50 million in support from New York state, the Saunders Research Building will house the Institute, academic departments, and clinical research programs in cardiovascular disease, cancer, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and neurological disorders. Created in 2006 with a $40 million NIH grant, the Institute has launched initiatives to build a network of physician practices engaged in clinical trials and to increase community awareness of and participation in medical research. Those efforts include a clinical trials website, www.healthresearch.urmc.edu, a tool for educating potential volunteers about clinical trials and other health research studies, and what it takes to get involved.

“One fundamental obstacle to advancing medical research is the difficulty that many investigators have in recruiting and retaining volunteers for health research studies, including clinical trials,” said Nancy M. Bennett, M.D., director of the URMC Center for Community Health, who heads community engagement activities for the Institute. “Our work focuses on identifying barriers to participation in research – particularly by groups historically underrepresented in research – and developing tools that allow physicians and their patients to engage in medical research. We have learned that the best approach is to involve the community and physicians in planning and implementing research.”

In 2007, the Medical Center established the Greater Rochester Practice-Based Research Network (GR-PBRN) to bring together primary care clinicians and researchers to collaborate on clinical research and improve patient care and outcomes. Member practices choose to participate in projects based on their needs and interests and assist investigators in identifying the most critical clinical issues for research. Practices interested in learning more about GR-PBRN may contact Karen Vitale at (585) 224-3085.

In additional to being a home for clinical researchers and support staff, the Saunders Research Building will provide a gathering space for the community to address public health issues and will house a satellite clinic of the Clinical Research Center, where researchers can conduct low-risk health research studies.

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