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USC wins $56.8M NIH award for clinical and translational research

The University of Southern California (USC) has received a prestigious $56.8 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support and promote scientific discoveries and their application in real-life settings to health and health care. The CTSA will have an important focus on health issues of people living in densely populated urban environments.

The award, which will be distributed over the next five years, was given to the USC-based Los Angeles Basin Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). CTSI was established in 2006 to connect basic scientists to clinical and community researchers and practitioners with a goal of accelerating the translation of laboratory discoveries into practice. Principal investigator is Thomas A. Buchanan, M.D., director of the Los Angeles Basin CTSI, and associate dean for clinical research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

"We congratulate principal investigator Dr. Tom Buchanan and the highly interdisciplinary USC team for winning this award," said Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the Keck School of Medicine. "An extraordinarily strong grant application resulted in USC receiving the first Clinical and Translational Science Award in Los Angeles." The application received a score of 12 on a scale of 10 to 90 (10 is a perfect score).

Faculty from eight USC schools and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles will partner with Kaiser Permanente Southern California, the Los Angeles County departments of Health Services and Mental Health, the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, and more than 30 community health organizations in greater Los Angeles to address the specific needs of the urban and diverse patient populations found in USC's backyard of downtown Los Angeles.

"We positioned our CTSI as not only an institute focused on health research, but also as a partnership among some of the largest providers of health care in Los Angeles. We are working collaboratively with others on campus and off campus, using L.A. as a real world laboratory to address issues that are important to the community here," Buchanan said.

With this award, USC joins a consortium of 55 health research centers in 28 states and the District of Columbia that are developing new ways to advance medical research in many disease areas and conditions, including cancer, mental illness, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

The selected research institutions work together as a national consortium to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA), shares a common vision to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, and to engage communities in clinical research efforts. It also is fulfilling the critical need to train a new generation of clinical researchers. The CTSA program is led by the National Center for Research Resources, part of National Institutes of Health.

USC competed for the award against 38 other institutions, including three major academic institutions in Southern California. Nine institutions received grant awards this year, and the NIH has stated that it plans to implement a maximum of 60 Clinical and Translational Science Awards overall.

While USC's Los Angeles Basin CTSI has already been successful at launching community research and interdisciplinary projects on a small scale, large-scale funding from the new NIH award will open the doors to development of a premier clinical and translational institute with the potential for a very large impact on health research and health care.

The Los Angeles Basin CTSI has four main goals for the CTSA. The first is to create an integrated academic environment that promotes and supports clinical and translational research. The second is to develop new interdisciplinary teams and projects to address top research priorities and health issues of people living in urban environments. The third is to train a new generation of investigators for clinical and translational science. The fourth goal is to share research findings locally, through the CTSI partnership, and nationally, through the consortium of institutions with CTSAs, to foster better health.

The CTSI has secured participation of eight schools at USC, including Medicine, Cinematic Arts, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Law, Pharmacy and Social Work.

Some interdisciplinary projects are currently under way. For example, leveraging talent from health sciences, engineering, cinema and informatics, faculty members recently developed an interactive computer game that helps autistic children better interact on an emotional level, one of the deficits of those with the disorder.


Contact: Leslie Ridgeway
University of Southern California

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