WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Wake Forest University Translational Science Institute (TSI) has announced a number of organizational changes. Four programs and four specialized centers have been organized to function collaboratively in support of research conducted at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
The mission of the TSI is to generate and “translate” biomedical science and knowledge into improved health care.
“To best support this mission, the Wake Forest Baptist leadership is committed to building an infrastructure that facilitates and supports the clinical and translational research initiatives within our institution, with our academic partners and our community collaborators,” said Charles E. “Cash” McCall, M.D., director of the TSI and professor of translational science.
The programs provide broad-based and integrated key functions to enable research to be translated into health care. The specialized centers provide distinct assets that facilitate the program activities.
Following is a list of the programs and specialized centers. Each of the appointed leaders will hold a shared primary appointment in the TSI and in their respective departments.
Clinical & Translational Research Facilitation Program, led by Kevin P. High, M.D., professor and section head of Internal Medicine-Infectious Diseases, consists of the Clinical Research Unit and the newly developed Clinical Trials Office. This program will expand services available to support the conduct of clinical trials research within the institution and the community. Services include enhanced regulatory support, research design and analysis, ethics consultation, and clinical trials management resources.
Community Engagement & Implementation Program, led by Thomas Arcury, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for research in Family and Community Medicine, will bring together community organizations, faculty and health care providers to build public trust in research and facilitate research on relevant community questions. The program will support the commercialization and dissemination of these research practices and findings into the community with evaluation and feedback from community organizations.
Innovation & Technologies Program, led by Richard F. Loeser Jr., M.D., professor and section head of Internal Medicine-Molecular Medicine, will provide an innovation engine for researchers through a pilot grant program that emphasizes multidisciplinary team science and an incubator program for entrepreneurial activities, biotechnology development and novel methods for translation. It will also facilitate access to translational technology, services and training in the use of special applications such as animal models, cell and systems biology and imaging.
Translational Research Academy, led by Deborah A. Meyers, Ph.D.,co-director of the Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine Research and professor and section head of Pediatrics-Medical Genetics, will serve as the administrative home of all educational activities organized by the academy. This includes both formal degree-granting programs as well as targeted research education experiences. Additionally, the academy will support a formally organized cohort of early-career research scholars and mentors to build and sustain a strong career development program.
Biomedical Research Informatics, led by J. Jeffrey Carr, M.D., professor of radiology/radiologic sciences,will work with the other TSI programs and centers to transform existing clinical, research and educational informatics operations to support translational science in a relevant and comprehensive fashion. As such, the center integrates with the overall institutional informatics and information services operation under the direction of Sheila Sanders, vice president for information services and chief information officer at Wake Forest Baptist. The center will serve as the academic home for biomedical research informatics, supporting faculty and research projects conducted within the institution, as well as providing essential informatics services such as creation of mobile platforms for electronic data capture tools, development of electronic communication and collaboration tools, and the development of a comprehensive, user-accessible translational data warehouse based on multi-site electronic health records.
Primate Models of Chronic Diseases, led by Jay R. Kaplan, Ph.D., professor and section head of Pathology-Comparative Medicine, and director of the Wake Forest University Primate Center. The Primate Center will work closely with the Research Academy to integrate primate research into the educational fabric, offering early investigators exposure to this kind of research. The center will also continue to support innovative research opportunities through pilot research initiatives and collaborative symposiums, and by offering technical expertise on primate-related research.
Genomics & Personalized Medicine, led by Eugene R. Bleecker, M.D., director of the Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine Research, professor of genomics and personalized medicine, of translational science, of pediatrics, and of public health sciences, and Thomas H. Davis Professor of Medicine in the Internal Medicine Section on Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Immunologic Diseases. The Genomics & Personalized Medicine Center will provide expertise for mapping disease-related genes responsible for patient phenotypes, with a focus on respiratory diseases, cancer, and diabetes, established by analysis of criteria such as clinical evaluations, induced phenotypes, biomedical imaging, and biomarkers. The center will also provide a key role in support of investigators, providing educational programs, clinical genomics trials aimed at predicting patient response to therapy, personalizing therapy, and designing preemptive and new strategies.
Population Science & Research Design, led by Gregory Burke, M.D., director of the Division of Public Health Sciences and professor of public health sciences. The Population Science & Research Design Center will build upon the extensive expertise of the Division of Public Health Sciences and will provide proficiency and support in the areas of statistical methods and design, population genetics and multi-center study coordination, working closely with the Clinical & Translational Research Facilitation Program to help implement evidence-based approaches to address local clinical health care needs.