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NCATS Awards $79M for 15 CTSA Institutes

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences has awarded more than $79 million in Clinical and Translational Science Awards to 15 research universities around the country.

The CTSA program, which is NCATS's flagship initiative, provides large, multiyear grants to support a national backbone of translational research conducted by a consortium of 60 biomedical research centers. These Clinical and Translational Science Institutes provide a range of services to researchers, host core facilities and expertise, and engage in collaborations that tackle complex problems aimed at spurring biomedical innovations toward the clinic and the marketplace.

The $79 million the National Institutes of Health announced today, which was awarded during the recently-ended Fiscal Year 2013, is a fraction of what these centers will receive over the full five years of the grants. Although NIH did not specify today the full funding total that the 15 institutes were awarded, in FY 2012, NCATS allotted $487.8 million of its total $576.5 million budget for the CTSA program.

"The CTSA Consortium is leading national efforts to enhance the efficiency, quality, and safety of translational research, no matter the disease or condition,” NCATS Director Christopher Austin said in a statement.

NIH said today that the CTSA program "catalyzes improvements across the entire spectrum of translational research through efforts to broadly develop, demonstrate, and disseminate health inventions."

It also links up partners with various interests in translating innovation into the clinic, including patient groups, healthcare providers, industry, and regulators, NIH said.

The size of the awards vary widely. For example, Dartmouth College has just received its first CTSA for $18 million, while the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reeled in $54.6 million for its second CTSA award.

UNC said today it plans to use the new funding for its CTSA site, called the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute, to support a collaboration with regional partners at the Research Triangle Institute and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

UNC said its work with these partners will focus on using next-generation technologies to transform research, engaging in comparative-effectiveness studies of the benefits and harms of treatments, and to work on new paradigms and resources to speed up drug development.

Dartmouth College's Geisel School of Medicine and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Health system will use the CTSA award to fund Dartmouth SYNERGY, or the Dartmouth Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the partners plan to provide $20 million in matching funds to support the program.

As GenomeWeb Daily News reported recently, Stanford University received $45.3 million for its new CTSA award, which funds the Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Education, or Spectrum.

Specifically, Stanford plans to use the funds to support two new programs, including one focused on disease diagnostics and another on population health sciences. The diagnostics program, which will be led by Atul Butte, chief of systems medicine and associate professor of pediatrics and genetics at Stanford, will aim to develop new methods of testing and preventing disease through advances in omics, immune monitoring, molecular imaging, single-cell analysis, and informatics.

The University of Utah also recently said it received a $20.4 million award to fund its CTSA institute, which includes eight core areas focused on biomedical informatics; clinical services; patient-centered outcomes research methods; research education, training, and career development; and other programs.

The Utah institute also said it plans to provide its expertise in human genetics, genotype/phenotype correlation, and comparative effectiveness studies to the CTSA consortium.

The other institutions receiving new CTSA funding that NIH announced today include the Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Duke University; Harvard Medical School; Indiana University; The Ohio State University; Johns Hopkins University; Scripps Research Institute; Tufts University; the University of Colorado, Denver; the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio; and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

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