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CTSI Initiative Launched — iRISE


To UTHSC Faculty, Students and Staff,

It’s my pleasure to share insight about an initiative now under way at UTHSC – an initiative with the potential to substantially extend our organization’s research enterprise. UTHSC has undertaken the challenge to develop a Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) on our Memphis campus. Our CTSI will be called the Institute for Research Innovation, Synergy, and Health Equity — iRISE.

Designed to provide key functions to facilitate and enhance the conduct of translational and clinical research across the Health Science Center and encompassing all of our colleges, iRISE will include streamlined services such as biostatistics, epidemiology, research design, and bioinformatics support. It will also include a pilot grants project to fund promising young investigators who need seed money to obtain larger grants. There will be a significant training component, with several programs designed to develop an interdisciplinary clinical and translational workforce. Plus, there will be a strong emphasis on health disparities as well as other special populations such as child health, transitional periods from childhood to adulthood, and geriatrics.

Over the next five years, UTHSC will invest approximately $10 million in iRISE with the goal of leveraging our investment to obtain a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health. A CTSA would channel an additional $4 million annually to UTHSC for a myriad of targeted research projects.

We anticipate iRISE will serve as a foundation to successfully compete for significant extramural funding in line with our organization’s vision as articulated through the recently published UTHSC strategic plan. Our initial investment in iRISE will transform our approach to research on health-related issues in our population. We think that investment will result in substantial returns that will be reflected across our institution over the long term.

“We are fortunate and grateful that Dr. Jon McCullers has accepted the responsibility to lead iRISE,” said David M. Stern, MD, Robert Kaplan Executive Dean for the UTHSC College of Medicine. In addition to serving as Dunavant Professor and chair for the UTHSC Department of Pediatrics, Dr. McCullers is also Pediatrician-in-Chief at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. “Jon has organized a talented, close-knit team to develop, write and submit the CTSI and CTSA applications. The team includes Drs. Dennis Black, Bob Davis, Paul Juarez, Csaba Kovesdy, Ari VanderWalde, Teresa Waters, and Rob Williams. With the initial application due in December, we look forward to sharing news of a positive outcome in the new year,” Dr. Stern added.

As this incredibly important initiative moves forward, we thank you in advance for any cooperation and assistance you can provide if the iRISE and CTSA team reach out to you for support.

Steve J. Schwab, MD