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The New Gravy Train: $574M for Latest NIH Clinical and Translational Awards

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The National Institutes of Health’s clinical translational service awards consortium just got significantly bigger. The NIH announced that 12 more institutions, including partnerships between Emory University and the Morehouse School of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College and Hunter College in New York, and Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College, are joining the CTSA. These new awards will be funded with $574 million over five years.

“As the consortium grows, we are fulfilling our charge to transform clinical and translational research,” said NIH director Elias Zerhouni in a statement announcing the new funding. “Through collaboration and leadership, these sites are serving as discovery engines that can rapidly translate research into prevention strategies and clinical treatments for people who need them.”

The CTSA consortium was created last year to support and bring together institutions using genomics and other technologies in clinical research, and to create a place in academia for translational research. At the time Zerhouni said, “The development of this consortium represents the first systemic change in our approach to clinical research in 50 years.”

The funding for those changes comes from the Roadmap Initiative, as well as from redirecting funds originally going to other clinical and translational programs. For the first year, the total funding of the consortium was $100 million. By 2012, when the consortium plan is supposed to be in full swing with 60 institutions, the funding is projected to reach $500 million annually.

The academic health centers that joined the consortium responded to a request for applications and were then chosen based upon their plan, including goals, existing resources, and key functions, to change clinical and translational research at their institutions. For example, 2006 recipient Duke University proposed a Clinical Translational Science Institute built upon three existing facilities — its Translational Research Institute, Clinical Research Institute, and Center for Community Research. The translational science center would then, according to the proposed program plan, support creative research and collaboration, provide bioinformatics support, and develop a community model to bring research to patient care. Other institutions focus on areas such as expanding training in translational research to include a master’s of clinical research degree, partnerships with industry, and fostering a diverse surrounding community.

The deadline for the next round of CTSA applications is November 7.

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