The University of Rochester has been awarded $19 million from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health to coordinate a network of more than 50 institutions across the country. The network aims to help researchers turn scientific discoveries into health benefits faster.
The new grant, which will require 20 new personnel to be hired, comes only one year after the UR CTSI was awarded a previous $19 million grant to continue its efforts to foster research spanning from molecules to populations. Since its inception, the UR CTSI has received nearly $105 million in NIH funding and has, in turn, supported 98 trainees and funded 198 projects for a total of nearly $15 million at the University of Rochester. Researchers and trainees supported by the CTSI have gone on to secure $102 million in external funding.
“The CTSI is advancing medicine and health care by accelerating research discoveries into powerful clinical knowledge and treatments. I am grateful to the NIH for this award that continues to support this critical work and expand it on the national level,” said Joel Seligman, president, CEO, and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor of the University of Rochester, at an announcement today in the Saunders Research Building, the home of the CTSI. “The award is a testament to the hard work of the leadership, faculty, and staff in the Medical Center and the CTSI.”
The University of Rochester Medical Center was one of the first 12 institutions in the nation to receive funding from the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program, which was established by the NIH in 2006 to reduce the time it takes for drugs, medical devices, or therapeutic interventions to get to patients and populations in need. The program acts in a supporting role for biomedical researchers, by providing infrastructure, training, and resources that make it easier for biomedical scientists to move their research forward.
CTSA Program funding helped create the UR CTSI and was the catalyst that led to the construction of a new home for clinical and translational research at the university. The Saunders Research Building, which was completed in 2011 with $50 million in support from New York State, was named in recognition of E. Philip Saunders, whose generous $10 million gift to the UR CTSI has been instrumental in fostering muscular dystrophy, cancer, and translational biomedical research.
“The UR CTSI has been the cornerstone of URMC’s commitment to use biomedical research to improve the lives of patients,” said Mark Taubman, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “This grant will allow the UR CTSI to increase not only its own impact, but the impact of over 50 of the nation’s top biomedical institutions working to bring new knowledge to everyday care.”
In the CTSA Program’s infancy, member institutions worked largely independently and best practices or resources developed at one institution were not easily transferred to the others as was originally intended. Amid calls from Congress, NCATS established funding for a CTSA Program Coordinating Center to facilitate collaboration among awarded institutions.
“With this $19 million Coordinating Center grant, we will build upon the foundation of the original CTSA Program Coordinating Center led by Vanderbilt University to establish the Center for Leading Innovation and Collaboration (CLIC),” said Martin Zand, M.D., Ph.D., co-director of the CTSI, professor of Medicine at URMC, and director of the Rochester Center for Health Informatics.
“The CLIC will address the changing needs of a changing CTSA Program with innovations developed at the UR,” added Deborah Ossip, Ph.D., professor of Public Health Sciences at URMC and director of the UR CTSI Population Health Research Postdoctoral Program. Ossip, who is an internationally recognized leader in smoking cessation research, will co-direct the CLIC alongside Zand.
The CLIC will create virtual and in-person platforms on which CTSA Program institutions can share data and educational materials, track their success, communicate with one another, and develop collaborations. It will help member institutions benchmark their progress in comparison to the network as a whole and identify areas where improvement may be needed or where efforts could be reduced.
“The goal and purpose of the CTSA Program is to speed medical and population health interventions to people who need them. No single institution can do this alone, and we don’t want to reinvent the wheel at each institution, so we must create ways to easily access and leverage each other’s resources, tools, and expertise,” said Nancy M. Bennett, MD, MS, CTSI co-director, and director of the Center for Community Health at URMC.
The CLIC will also help communicate the importance and impact of the CTSA Program to government stakeholders and US taxpayers who fund the program using interactive and engaging data visualization. These dynamic data will be available to the general public and will make CTSA Program-supported scientific and medical advances vibrantly visible.
The University of Rochester Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health under grants UL1TR002001, KL2TR001999, and TL1TR002000.
The University of Rochester Center for Leading Innovation and Collaboration (CLIC) is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health under grant U24TR002260.