$21 Million Award Will Accelerate Application of Medical Research

Jun. 30, 2011

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) has received a $21 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support programs that focus on breaking down the barriers between research labs and the lives of people.

The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) – which is effective July 1, 2011 – will enable the Medical Center to continue its work in the field of clinical and translational medicine for another five years. The grant is a renewal of a $40 million award made to the Medical Center back in 2006 to create and expand research, education, and support programs intended to cut the time needed to turn scientific insight into new ways to treat disease. At that time, URMC was one of the first 12 institutions in the nation to receive a CTSA grant from the NIH. The program has since expanded and now consists of a network of 60 health research centers in 30 states.

“Translational medicine is the bridge between new ideas and better health and will have profound implications for both research growth and patient care here in Rochester,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., the CEO of URMC. “This new grant represents an affirmation of our community’s commitment to invest in biomedical research and recognizes that in order to make significant advances in medicine institutions need to bring together people with the expertise necessary to help move research from one stage to the next.”

The $21 million grant will support the activity of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) which was created in 2006 to provide researchers with a comprehensive and integrated set of services, expertise, and resources necessary to carry out all phases of translational research from the point where a new idea is first evaluated in people all the way to its adoption on a community-wide scale.  The CTSI also funds pilot research, oversees new graduate programs in translational medicine, and serves as the nucleus for a coalition of 16 biomedical research centers in upstate New York.

The new grant comes on the heels of the opening of a new 200,000 square foot building dedicated to clinical and translational science. The Saunders Research Building, which was completed in April of this year, was constructed with $50 million in support from New York State. The building now serves as the hub of a network of people, resources, and training programs that support translational medicine. It is also home to leading research programs in cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, pediatrics, and emergency medicine, and the academic departments of Community & Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics & Computational Biology.

“The CTSA awards and the Saunders Research Building place the Medical Center in the vanguard of a national movement to transform the way we conduct biomedical research,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “One that seeks to cut the time it takes to turn new ideas into better health and find new ways to lower the cost of health care while at the same time increasing efficiency, effectiveness, and access.”

The new grant brings the total support for the CTSI and its affiliated programs to $65 million. It is also estimated that the CTSI has played a role in an additional $234 million in research and education grants that have been awarded to researchers at URMC and other institutions over the last 5 years.

In addition to continuing the work that was started under the 2006 CTSA grant, the new award will support the work of several additional translational medicine initiatives, including:

·         Early-stage (T1) translational research: The Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics was created in 2010 to help researchers conceive, plan, and carry out the initial translation of novel interventions from preclinical evaluation – research performed in the lab – into the first human clinical trials. The Center builds upon decades of combined experience in conducting experimental human therapeutics and running some of the more complex clinical studies in the world. 

·         Comparative effectiveness research: The Center for Research Implementation and Translation – a partnership between the School of Nursing, and the Departments of Community & Preventive Medicine and Psychiatry – conducts research comparing the benefits and harms of different interventions and strategies to prevent, diagnose, treat, and monitor health conditions in “real world” settings. The Center’s objective is to identify new approaches that improve care and lower cost.

·         Public-private partnerships: In coordination with the Office of Research Alliances, the CTSI will help scientists develop research and educational collaborations between the private sector, foundations, government agencies and other institutions through joint-research projects and the development and commercialization of Medical Center technologies.

The grant also supports new initiatives to promote the creation of large teams of researchers focused on complex health problems, a Research Navigator program that helps researchers identify and access support for their work, specialized research space and skilled staff, a number of new education and training programs, and ongoing community outreach programs carried out in collaboration with the Center for Community Health.

“This grant is a testament to the efforts of scores of faculty and staff who have contributed to the enormous progress we have made over the last five years,” said Thomas Pearson, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., the principal investigator of the CTSA grant. “At the same time it requires that we not rest on our laurels but continue to innovate and build the teams necessary to tackle the complex health problems that burden our patients and communities.”