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TN-CTSI Awards Pilot Project Funding To Two UTHSC Researchers


The Tennessee Clinical and Translational Science Institute (TN-CTSI) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has announced the latest round of grant recipients from its Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies Program. Two UTHSC researchers were each awarded $30,000 for a one-year period. The winners and their projects are:

Dr. Karen Derefinko
  • Karen J. Derefinko, associate professor, Department of Preventive Medicine in the College of Medicine, for her project “Opioid reduction for total knee replacement patients.” This study is a randomized clinical trial examining safe, non-narcotic pain relief strategies for patients age 18 and over following total knee replacement surgery. It is a collaboration between UTHSC Departments of Preventive Medicine, Orthopedics, Physical Therapy, and Campbell Clinic Orthopedics. The results of this project could lead to alternative treatment practices at orthopedic surgery centers nationwide.
Dr. Keiichi Sumida
  • Keiichi Sumida, MD, MPH, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Nephrology in the College of Medicine, and Canan Kuscu, PhD, professor, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, for their project “Circulating small non-coding RNA profiles for premature cardiovascular death in hemodialysis patients.” This is a case-control study to profile novel epigenetic regulators (circulating-small non-coding RNAs) of cardiovascular disease in hemodialysis patients. The project will help identify potential new biomarkers for cardiovascular death in patients with end-stage renal disease and will pave the way for future larger studies to develop target-driven therapeutics.

The Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies Program aims to stimulate innovative, interdisciplinary, team-based research led by UTHSC faculty members as principal investigators. The program provides seed funding for projects across the translational science continuum, from basic science to dissemination and implementation research.

“The TN-CTSI aims to bring evidence-based interventions and practices to community and clinical settings to improve human health,” Michelle Martin, PhD, co-director of the institute, said. “We are excited to expand our research portfolio to include these two projects and advance the mission we have for our institute.” Dr. Martin is also a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and founding director of the Center for Innovation in Health Equity Research.

“The two projects funded are addressing important health problems in our community and will add to our knowledge of how to prevent disease and promote health,” said Karen Johnson, MD, MPH, TN-CTSI co-director and endowed professor in Women’s Health and chair of Preventive Medicine at UTHSC.

This is the third cohort of TN-CTSI pilot award recipients. To date, the program has awarded a total of $135,000 to seven UTHSC researchers since its 2018 founding.