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URMC / Clinical & Translational Science Institute / Stories / October 2016 / NIH Director Praises CTSI and Translational Research During Meliora Weekend Visit

NIH Director Praises CTSI and Translational Research During Meliora Weekend Visit

CTSI directors meet NIH director Francis Collins

NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., visited the University of Rochester Medical Center on Oct. 7 for UR’s Meliora Weekend. As part of Collins’ first ever trip to URMC, he delivered a keynote address in which he praised the Medical Center and Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) for being productive leaders in both basic and translational research.

Collins applauded URMC for securing $202 million of NIH funding this year and gave some special recognition for our translational endeavors. He pointed out that URMC was among the first 12 academic centers in the nation to establish a clinical and translational science institute and congratulated the university on the recent renewal of CTSI funding to the tune of $19 million over the next four years.

Addressing the crowd, Collins said, “The real strength of biomedical research in the U.S. over all of these years has been you all: the PIs, the students, the trainees. It’s your work that I’m here to cheer for and celebrate.”

He cited the translational research conducted by Arthur J. Moss, M.D., and KL2 Career Development award recipient, David S. Auerbach, Ph.D., which has led to new insights and treatments for patients with Long QT syndrome (LQTS).  John J. Treanor, M.D., and David J. Topham, Ph.D., were both touted for research contributing to the development of new and better flu vaccines.

Collins also gave an optimistic outlook on the future of the NIH budget, outlining several new funding initiatives and research programs at the NIH, including the Human Microbiome ProjectBig Data to Knowledge (BD2K), the Precision Medicine Initiative and the Cancer Moonshot. He highlighted the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, which helps early stage investigators advance their careers and gain independent funding. Elaine L. Hill, Ph.D., assistant professor of Public Health recently received the award, for her research on the impact of fracking on infant and child health.

During Collins’ visit, he also received a tour of the Center for RNA Biology and the lab of Center director, Lynne E. Maquat, Ph.D.  Trainees and junior researchers highlighted their most promising work for Collins, which he admitted is his favorite part of visits like these.

Trainee luncheon with Collins

During lunch, Collins also had occasion to chat with 15 URMC graduate students and postdocs. The group discussed the importance of communicating science to the public and policymakers, increasing diversity in biomedical research and new mechanisms to support young scientists at the start of their careers. Lunch attendees Sarah Latchney, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Laura Calvi, M.D., two-time CTSI Pilot Awardee, and Solomon Abiola, Translational Biomedical Science graduate student gave in-depth accounts of the discussion in the CareerStories@URBEST blog.

You can view Collin’s keynote, “Exceptional Opportunities in Biomedical Research”, here.

Susanne Pritchard Pallo | 10/14/2016

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