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$20 million NIH grant to transform clinical research at UIC

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a five year $20 million grant to the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

The grant is the largest in UIC's history.

"The CCTS draws upon the rich intellectual breadth of the UIC campus and adds to the portfolio of excellent research that is underway on the campus," said Paula Allen-Meares, UIC chancellor.

Translational research -- moving new, basic science knowledge into useful applications for health and medicine -- is "an urgent need and a continuing challenge," says R. Michael Tanner, UIC provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. "Insights from basic research need much development and further study to create beneficial clinical practices, and the NIH is funding us to accelerate the process," Tanner said.

The NIH launched the Clinical Translational Science Award program in 2006 to fund a national consortium of medical research institutions that now includes 39 leading centers in 23 states. When the program is fully implemented, about 60 centers will be connected with an annual budget of $500 million.

The UIC center was established in 2007 to create new collaborations and support the movement of knowledge from the lab bench into the community.

"This grant enables UIC to enhance its collaborative research in the health sciences, from basic science to community engagement, bringing in virtually all the colleges at UIC as well as great collaborations with the Urbana-Champaign campus, and the medical campuses at Peoria and Rockford," said Dr. Joseph Flaherty, dean of the UIC College of Medicine.

The scope of the collaborations make the UIC center "unique as a statewide translational science program," he said.

"This is an important award for UIC," said Dr. Larry Danziger, UIC interim vice chancellor for research. "We are excited about the ways in which this award will facilitate increased collaborations among our basic science and clinical researchers on campus, our local community partners, and our national peers to move basic science findings more quickly into clinical trial and community settings."

The center provides a Web-based as well as a geographic single point-of-access for investigators -- including a match-making service to identify potential new collaborations. To provide support for research, the center offers six "core" services: statistical design and analysis, clinical interface, biomedical informatics, regulatory support and advocacy, community engagement and research, and translational technologies and resources.

The center includes educational programs for pre- and postdoctoral trainees and faculty researchers to train the next generation of translational researchers.

Some projects already funded by the center include developing a collaborative research program in asthma and allergic diseases, exploring a promising immunotherapy to treat severe infections in patients with compromised immune systems, and a multi-disciplinary approach to improving cancer care for rural residents.

The center also includes researchers at Advocate Health Care and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

"The center will capitalize on mature conceptual and technological resources at UIC to foster collaboration and innovation," said Theodore Mazzone, professor of medicine and director of the center. "Our goal is to facilitate the work of translational investigators, to make it easier and more attractive for them to think beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries."


Contact: Jeanne Galatzer-Levy
University of Illinois at Chicago

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