Virginia Commonwealth University announced Wednesday it has received a $20 million grant – the largest federal award in its history – from the National Institutes of Health to become part of a nationwide consortium of research institutions working to turn laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients.
The Clinical and Translational Science Award makes VCU the only academic health center in Virginia to join a national consortium of research centers sponsored by NIH's National Center for Research Resources. This network of academic research institutions accelerates the transformation of laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engages communities in clinical research and trains a new generation of clinical and translational researchers.
The NIH announced Wednesday that VCU was among nine institutions selected this year, bringing membership to 55 centers in 28 states and the District of Columbia. When the program is fully implemented, it will support approximately 60 CTSAs across the nation.
“Learning through research is a hallmark of VCU and this award catalyzes VCU's ability to advance the economy of Virginia as one of the major research universities," said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and the VCU Health System. "The CTSA award is not only a significant achievement for VCU, but also for Virginia and the country as our research moves from the laboratory to the bedside to save and improve lives.”
VCU joins the consortium through its Center for Clinical and Translational Research, or CCTR, a comprehensive matrix center that will support VCU’s efforts to strengthen ties with affiliates and community partners to better share resources and respond to community health needs.
“VCU will bring additional talent and expertise to the CTSA consortium in such areas as substance abuse, women's health and rehabilitation science, outreach to communities and systems to share research information,” said Barbara Alving, M.D., director of the NCRR.
“This is a transformational moment for VCU in terms of our status as a research university,” said Sheldon Retchin, M.D., vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System. “This draws on the reputation the university has developed in community-based participatory research and its national reputation for delivery of care to the underserved members of the community,” he said.
Through the VCU CCTR, researchers will benefit from centralized management, Web-based data sharing, training and access to a rich array of resources, including biostatistics, ethics, research study and regulatory support. In addition, students can pursue a transdisciplinary education through the center’s M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs in clinical and translational science.
"This award will engage academic units across the university in a common purpose,” said Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine. “Effective translational research requires the combined expertise of multiple disciplines and a culture of collaboration.
“With its outstanding health system and distinguished health and biomedical science-related schools, VCU is uniquely positioned to make significant contributions to the health of all Americans,” Strauss said.
John Clore, M.D., associate vice president for clinical research and principal investigator for the grant, said the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at VCU “will train the next generation of clinical investigators to pool medical informatics, genetics, basic science, clinical research together – and working with the community – to develop a whole new way to do research with a whole new group of investigators that are trained differently, and uniquely, to answer the needs of the 21st century.”