NIH grant supports citywide research partnership

Written by admin   // July 16, 2010   // 0 Comments

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced recently it has awarded a $20 million grant to The Medical College of Wisconsin, representing a consortium of eight Milwaukee institutions to create a Milwaukee-wide research partnership that shares a common vision, resources and staff to advance biomedical research, patient care and education.

The goal of the five-year funding, awarded through the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, is to create a borderless, complementary and synergistic biomedical research enterprise in Southeast Wisconsin that will accelerate the translation of research discoveries into new and improved medical treatments.

The NIH’s National Center for Research Resources awarded a perfect score of 10 to the Milwaukee consortium’s grant proposal, as a national model for multi-institutional collaboration.

The Medical College of Wisconsin will coordinate the grant, administered through a new academic entity recognized by all partner institutions:  the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) of Southeast Wisconsin.

The eight CTSI member organizations are: the Medical College, Marquette University, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Blood Center of Wisconsin, Children’s Hospital and Health System, Froedtert Hospital, and the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.

The partner institutions have worked for three years to develop and establish the CTSI.

The CTSI’s charge is to advance the new academic discipline of clinical and translational sciences and facilitate training and education of the next generation of health care professionals focused on accelerating biomedical discoveries into patient care treatment.

The Medical College was one of nine centers nationwide to receive the new CTSA funding.  The other eight centers designated by the NIH are:

• Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.

• Georgetown University with Howard University, Washington, D.C.

•  University of California, Irvine

• University of California, San Diego

• University of Massachusetts, Worcester

• University of New Mexico Health Science Center, Albuquerque

• University of Southern California, Los Angeles

• Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond

Since 2003, the NIH has designated 55 CTSA centers nationwide at leading academic medical centers.

“The CTSA institutions provide opportunities for clinical and basic researchers to train and work as interdisciplinary teams which are essential for developing and delivering new treatments and prevention strategies,” said NCRR Director Barbara Alving, M.D.

“We are pleased that The Medical College of Wisconsin will be joining the consortium and look forward to unique contributions that will enrich translational research.”

“This award empowers us to bring together biomedical firms, educational, patient care, patient advocacy and civic organizations, as well as local and state governments, to create a meaningful and effective community engagement to achieve the goals of the grant and contribute to advance the health of Wisconsin’s citizens,” said Reza Shaker, M.D., principal investigator for the grant and Medical College senior associate dean for clinical and translational research.

He added, “In addition to developing new and better patient treatments, the eight partners are part of an inter-institutional organization working to educate, train and mentor future generations of clinical investigators. The CTSI welcomes research collaborations with area health care professionals and scientists.”

Dr. Shaker is also director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin and the Joseph E. Geenen professor and chief of gastroenterology at the Medical College.

The CTSI’s research portfolio currently includes over 140 protocols.  Faculty researchers at the four academic institutions and the Blood Research Institute and the Children’s Research Institute will have access to each member’s research resources and may seek adjunct faculty appointments at the partnering colleges or universities.

A $720,000 award from the Medical College’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin program has already funded 17 collaborative research studies currently underway in Milwaukee.

Academic programs also will be expanded through the CTSA grant.

In the fall of 2009, The Medical College of Wisconsin launched a Ph.D. program in Basic and Translational Research and a Master of Science degree in Clinical and Translational Science.

Marquette University is developing a Ph.D. program in Clinical and Translational Rehabilitative Health Sciences for health professionals.

The Medical College is also expanding its Master of Science degree in Clinical and Translational Science to include coursework at Marquette, MSOE and UWM.

The successful SMART (Students Modeling A Research Topic) Teams program at MSOE will also be expanded.

The SMART Teams program engages teams of high schools students and their teacher working with research scientists to design and construct physical models of proteins being investigated in research laboratories.

The program spurs interest and encouragement to direct promising students into scientific careers.

Programs are also being developed to encourage junior faculty members to pursue research careers.

Mentored clinical and translational research awards have been given to four junior faculty members (three at the Medical College and one at UWM).

These awards provide salary support to young investigators pursuing careers in clinical research.

The NIH plans to fund approximately 60 Clinical and Translational Science Awards nationwide by 2012.

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