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University of Michigan receives $55 million NIH grant


University matches grant for major investment in human research resources and training

ANN ARBOR, MI – National Institutes of Health Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., has announced that the University of Michigan will receive a $55 million Clinical and Translational Science Award. The CTSAs are part of a national initiative to encourage and speed collaboration and interdisciplinary research for therapies that improve human health.

The announcement places U-M with 23 other academic medical centers around the country who are members of an expanding national CTSA consortium. Its mission is to transform how clinical and translational research is conducted. When fully implemented in 2012, about 60 institutions will be linked together to energize the discipline of clinical and translational science.

“As the consortium grows, we are fulfilling our charge to transform clinical and translational research,” said Zerhouni. “Through collaboration and leadership, these sites are serving as discovery engines that can rapidly translate research into prevention strategies and clinical treatments for the people who need them. The CTSA consortium also represents our investment in the future as it prepares the next generation of clinical researchers to meet tomorrow’s health care challenges.”

This five-year grant, the third largest NIH award in the University’s history and the largest NIH award to the Medical School in its history, builds on previous NIH investments to expand innovative programs and services in clinical research infrastructure and education. Key participants include the Medical School, Schools of Business, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Public Health, the College of Engineering, Division of Kinesiology, the Life Sciences Institute and the Institute for Social Research.

“The Medical School and the Hospitals and Health Centers have, and will continue to play, leadership roles in the success of this CTSA award, which could only be achieved through the broad support from schools, colleges and units across our institution,” says Robert P. Kelch, M.D., U-M executive vice president for medical affairs and CEO, U-M Health System. “We have an incredibly strong institutional commitment that includes a nearly one-to-one funding match from many of the University’s schools and colleges. The energy sweeping through our biology, clinical medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, public health, engineering and genomic units is palpable.”

The U-M’s Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, launched last November, is the administrative umbrella for this grant. Led by Dan Clauw, M.D., professor of internal medicine, MICHR is creating partnerships among the relevant units of the University, the NIH, external industry partners, and the community for both research and education.

“A CTSA is the superhighway of the NIH roadmap – it’s the ultimate resource an institution needs to really deliver cures and treatments to our patients. The University has been building infrastructure for nearly five years. As a result we are ready to use the CTSA to help people do the best research, as well as excite and attract people who weren’t previously thinking about a career in clinical or translational research,” Clauw says.

MICHR programs already in place include a Pilot and Collaborative Grant Program for Translational and Clinical Research. In August, MICHR awarded $3.6 million in its first round, the largest ever interdisciplinary grant program at the U-M. In addition to funds from MICHR itself, 24 different departments, colleges or units at the U-M provided funds to encourage collaboration and interdisciplinary research for therapies that improve human health.

“We’re already seeing this program do what we intended: incent, catalyze and establish collaborations in ways that haven’t been tried before,” Clauw says.

Engage, a Web site developed for potential participants – and referring physicians recruiting volunteers for U-M clinical studies – is another successful MICHR program. Started in 2005, the site lets prospective volunteers register their interest, search for new studies at any time and update personal profiles.

“Reaching out to the community is such an important charge from the CTSA consortium. To develop Engage, we involved members of the community in deciding what information the website should have, and how best to present it,” says Dorene Markel, MICHR managing director. ”This is one of a number of outreach programs that aim to build trust in the community so members feel comfortable partnering with our researchers.”

A broad array of training programs are already in place at MICHR, reaching medical, public health, engineering and allied health undergraduates, pre-and post-doctoral students, and young basic science and clinical investigators just beginning their careers. This rich educational environment will educate and develop the next generation of researchers.

MICHR’s Community Advisory Board involves community partners from throughout the area, including Ypsilanti, Flint and Detroit, in order to identify and execute major outreach efforts throughout the state so that research taking place under the auspices of the CTSA will directly benefit the people of Michigan.

“Even with this infrastructure already in place, there is much to do. For example, moving to a model of team science – there’s no better place than U-M to do this. We have an existing culture of successful collaboration and we have Top 10 graduate schools in every field related to health. The potential is great,” Clauw says.

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. Funding for the CTSA initiative comes from redirecting existing clinical and translational programs and from Roadmap funds. Total funding for these new awards will be approximately $577 million. This total represents a nearly five-year budget period.

For more information on the current members and the new grantees follow this link.

Written by Mary Beth Reilly


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