UTHSC Receives NIH Funding for Clinical & Translational Science Center

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Effective September 23, 2006, UTHSC officials were notified by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) they have been awarded a nearly $185,000, one-year planning process for the development of a new Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC).

Effective September 23, 2006, University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) officials were notified by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) they have been awarded a nearly $185,000, one-year planning process for the development of a new Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC).

The NIH is engaged in a series of initiatives, collectively known as the “NIH Roadmap for Medical Research,” that promote clinical and translational investigation designed to improve health and prevent disease. The goal of the Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program is to transform the local, regional and national environment for clinical and translational science by increasing the efficiency and speed of the research process.

Through the CTSA program, the NIH plans to fund up to 60 CTSCs nationwide over the next four to five years. According to UTHSC Chancellor William F. Owen Jr. MD, “The CTSA program is a great opportunity for selected institutions and their affiliates to develop innovative proposals that can transform their clinical and translational science programs and resources.”

Principal investigator for the NIH award, James Dale, MD, professor of medicine and molecular sciences noted, “The one-year planning grant from the NIH will allow UTHSC ample time and resources to develop a full CTSA proposal which will be submitted to the NIH in late 2007 or early 2008. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers, clinicians, and academicians has already begun to identify exemplary research activities and resources within UTHSC. Our goal is to develop a comprehensive, logical, and achievable plan that will transform the entire clinical research enterprise. We plan to challenge traditional methods and structures.”

“Transforming the research process requires that we create an academic home (CTSC) for faculty and programs that integrates clinical and translational science across multiple departments, schools, clinical and research institutes, as well as hospitals,” Dr. Dale explained. “The CTSC is expected to include faculty who are able to conduct original research, develop graduate and postgraduate training curricula, and lead programs that integrate clinical and translational science across all of these entities.”

The CTSC on the UTHSC Memphis Campus will be an interdisciplinary center of research excellence with three primary missions: to translate scientific discoveries into clinical applications, to educate a cadre of professionals in all aspects of translational science, and to serve as a local, regional, and national resource for advancing scientific discoveries into community health care.

“The center will provide support for all levels of translational and clinical research. We plan to develop an environment that will promote interdisciplinary teamwork, facilitate sharing of methods and results, and respond to the needs of our community,” commented Dr. Dale.

“Racial and socioeconomic disparities in the causes and treatment of diseases, potential environmental and/or genetic associations, and access to medical care are key components of our vision for the CTSC,” Dr. Dale said.

“UTHSC has many areas of research excellence that have the ability to change human health on a societal scale. We offer large programs in neurological diseases, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, arthritis, infectious diseases and vaccine development, and genetic determinants of disease. The CTSC will create an integrated research infrastructure that provides focused areas of expertise and core support services to address complex diseases, diagnostics, and therapeutics,” observed Chancellor Owen. “By restructuring the existing research enterprise and removing academic silos, researchers, clinicians and educators can have a powerful impact on the most pressing health care issues of today and tomorrow.”