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Vol. LVIII, No. 23
November 17, 2006
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NIH Launches National Consortium to Transform Clinical Research

  Caitlyn Regan participates in a sleep study at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s sleep lab with Dr. Carole Marcus, co-principal investigator of the Clinical and Translational Science Award and director of Children’s Hospital’s Sleep Center, and Dr. Robert Heinle, pulmonary fellow.  
  Caitlyn Regan participates in a sleep study at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s sleep lab with Dr. Carole Marcus, co-principal investigator of the Clinical and Translational Science Award and director of Children’s Hospital’s Sleep Center, and Dr. Robert Heinle, pulmonary fellow.  

The first dozen participants in a new national consortium that will transform how clinical and translational research is conducted were announced recently by NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni.

The new consortium, funded through Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs), begins with 12 academic health centers (AHCs) located throughout the nation. An additional 52 AHCs are receiving planning grants to help them prepare applications to join the consortium. When fully implemented in 2012, about 60 institutions will be linked together to energize the discipline of clinical and translational science.

“The development of this consortium represents the first systematic change in our approach to clinical research in 50 years,” said Zerhouni. “Working together, these sites will serve as discovery engines that will improve medical care by applying new scientific advances to real-world practice. We expect to see new approaches reach underserved populations, local community organizations and health care providers to ensure that medical advances are reaching the people who need them.”

Led by the National Center for Research Resources, the CTSA program encouraged applicants to develop institutes, centers or departments for these awards and were challenged to devise innovative and far-reaching approaches to build academic homes for clinical and translational science. In response, the CTSA institutions are planning to:

  • Develop better designs for clinical trials to ensure that patients with rare as well as common diseases benefit from new medical therapies;
  • Produce enriched environments to educate and develop the next generation of researchers trained in the complexities of translating research discoveries into clinical trials and ultimately into practice;
  • Design new and improved clinical research informatics tools;
  • Expand outreach efforts to minority and medically underserved communities;
  • Assemble interdisciplinary teams that cover the complete spectrum of research—biology, clinical medicine, dentistry, nursing, biomedical engineering, genomics and population sciences;
  • Forge new partnerships with private and public health care organizations.

“The impact of the CTSA consortium will be far greater than the number of awards made,” said Dr. Barbara Alving, NCRR acting director. “We’re already seeing transformative changes and new partnerships developing at institutions as they prepare to participate. A major focus of this consortium will be informatics, as it is critical that we develop and implement interoperable clinical research informatics systems to improve data sharing, while ensuring patient confidentiality.”

The CTSA initiative grew out of the NIH commitment to re-engineer the clinical research enterprise, one of the key objectives of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. To ensure that the trans-NIH objectives of the CTSA initiative are achieved, an NIH CTSA project team is being organized that will include representatives from 18 institutes/centers and from senior NIH leadership. Members will serve on about a dozen committees that will focus on areas such as clinical research informatics, pediatrics, community engagement and industrial partners.

Funding for the CTSA initiative comes from redirecting existing clinical and translational programs, including Roadmap funds. Total first-year funding for the 12 awards is approximately $100 million. When fully implemented in 2012, the initiative is expected to provide a total of about $500 million annually to 60 academic health centers.

The following institutions will receive the first set of awards for nearly a 5-year period: Columbia University Health Sciences; Duke University; Mayo Clinic College of Medicine; Oregon Health & Science University; Rockefeller University; University of California, Davis; University of California, San Francisco; University of Pennsylvania; University of Pittsburgh; University of Rochester; University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; and Yale University.

For complete project descriptions, visit http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/ncrrprog/roadmap/ CTSA_9-2006.asp.

A second Request for Applications for CTSAs has been issued, calling for the next round of submissions to be made by Jan. 17, 2007, with awards expected in fall 2007. NIH Record Icon

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