WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest University School of Medicine is one of 52 academic health centers to receive a National Institutes of Health (NIH) planning grant to prepare for joining a new national research consortium.
“The national consortium will transform how clinical and translational research is conducted, ultimately enabling researchers to provide new treatments more efficiently and quickly to patients,” according to an NIH news release announcing the grants.
Known as the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), the new program is expected to provide a total of $500 million annually that will be awarded to about 60 academic health centers when it is fully implemented in 2012. Twelve academic health centers have been funded from this year’s first round of applications.
“The development of this consortium represents the first systematic change in our approach to clinical research in 50 years,” said NIH Director Elias Z. Zerhouni, M.D., in the news release.
Wake Forest University School of Medicine was awarded $150,000 to prepare its application, which it will submit in early 2008. To receive NIH funding for a CTSA, an interdisciplinary and co-operative “home” for clinical and translational research must be established that partners with the community.
Wake Forest is establishing the Wake Forest University Institute of Translational Biomedical Sciences, which will be a cooperative effort eventually involving more than 100 faculty members and more than 44 departments, centers, or institutes from Wake Forest University and the School of Medicine, as well as external commercial enterprises, academic institutions, and the community.
As currently envisioned, the new institute will comprise seven programs designed to effectively “translate” research so that it can more quickly benefit the public. For example, the education program will offer master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees in translational research, and an incubation program will coordinate a “think tank” on translating research. Other programs will develop data bases of biological information and will work to take advantage of the latest knowledge about how genes affect health.
Charles McCall, M.D., deputy associate dean for research and director of the General Clinical Research Center, is the principal investigator on the planning grant, and Sally Shumaker, Ph.D., associate dean for research, is the co-principal investigator.
“We are well-poised for this and I think we can be highly competitive,” said McCall, explaining that Wake Forest has a strong history of translational research. He said the institution’s strengths include a Public Health Sciences Division that is among the top in the nation in terms of NIH funding and the Piedmont Triad Research Park, which supports life science research and development.
In addition, Wake Forest is one of 79 centers in the country with a General Clinical Research Center, a program funded by the NIH. These research centers help investigators translate basic science knowledge into new or improved methods of patient care. Studies are conducted in such areas as anesthesiology, heart disease, kidney disease, psychiatry, infectious diseases and women’s health.
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest University School of Medicine 18th in family medicine, 20th in geriatrics, 25th in primary care and 41st in research among the nation's medical schools. It ranks 35th in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Almost 150 members of the medical school faculty are listed in Best Doctors in America.