June 16, 2011

VUMC to lead national CTSA consortium

Featured Image

Ivor Pritchard, Ph.D., left, of the federal Office for Human Research Protections, talks with Gordon Bernard, M.D., and Paul Harris, Ph.D., during a national research meeting at the University Club on Wednesday where federal and CTSA officials discussed ways to improve the review of clinical studies involving multiple institutions. (photo by Anne Rayner)

VUMC to lead national CTSA consortium

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been awarded a five-year $20 million federal grant to coordinate a national consortium that aims to advance biomedical research nationwide.

This Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Coordinating Center grant coincides with the National Institutes of Health’s announcement of five new CTSA awards. Administered by the NIH’s National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), there are now 60 CTSA institutions, including Vanderbilt, in 30 states and the District of Columbia.

“The CTSA consortium will benefit greatly from the expertise that Vanderbilt has shown in facilitating collaborations and in developing and sharing informatics tools, all of which will provide a strong foundation for the coordinating center,” said NCRR Director Barbara Alving, M.D.

Gordon Bernard, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Research and director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR), will serve as principal investigator of the new CTSA Coordinating Center.

“We believe the energy and talent of CTSA teams across the country represent a precious resource, one that is essential to success in accelerating the pathway from discoveries to practice,” Bernard said.

“Serving the consortium and NIH as CTSA coordinating center gives us a chance to harness that collective energy on a national scale,” he said. “We are motivated by the promise of the CTSA to enable better health for us all.”

“This is truly our sweet spot and is a great moment for Vanderbilt,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “Generations of Vanderbilt scientists have inspired the world by their innovations in moving basic discovery to clinical practice, from the earliest days of our NIH-funded Clinical Research Center.

“This award, in many ways, is a culmination of those multi-generational efforts, and clearly defines Vanderbilt as a national and worldwide leader in bringing science to the foreground for the public good,” Balser said.

“To be named the national coordinating center for the entire network of NIH-funded universities is extraordinary validation of steadfast commitment, years of strategic investment, and the superb work of Dr. Bernard and the entire CTSA team.”

Now in its fifth year, the CTSA consortium has generated resources that enhance the efficiency and quality of clinical and translational research, such as a searchable database of potential industry partners to aid scientists seeking public-private partnerships to take their research to the next level.

Another example is a secure Web application designed to assist scientific teams with research data collection, sharing and management.

Vanderbilt received its CTSA in 2007. The five-year, $50 million award has provided investigators with resources and support necessary for their scientific pursuits. The grant supported establishment of VICTR and a research partnership with Nashville’s Meharry Medical College to improve community health and reduce health disparities.

VICTR has provided pilot funding and other assistance to hundreds of Vanderbilt researchers. In the past four years, more than 300 papers published in scientific journals have benefited from VICTR support.

Another VICTR accomplishment is the design of the first national volunteer recruitment registry, ResearchMatch (www.researchmatch.org), which is hosted by Vanderbilt. Since its launch in 2009, more than 14,000 potential volunteers have enrolled in the registry and roughly 1,000 have participated in clinical studies nationwide.

For more information about how CTSA-supported research is translating basic discoveries into improved human health, visit www.ncrr.nih.gov/ctsa and www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/victr.