UW News

September 18, 2007

NIH funds University of Washington Institute of Translational Health Sciences

The University of Washington Institute of Translational Health Sciences is among 12 additional academic medical organizations nationwide to receive funding through the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs). The UW Institute will receive approximately $62 million of the approximately $577 million in total funding that will be awarded over five years to the national consortium, which is transforming how clinical and translational research is conducted at academic health centers across the country. Ultimately, this consortium will enable researchers to provide new treatments more efficiently and quickly to patients.

Today’s announcement by NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., adds 12 more academic health centers to the first 12 announced last October. The consortium sites serve as discovery engines that can rapidly translate research into prevention strategies and clinical treatments, Zerhouni said. When fully implemented in 2012, 60 institutions will be linked together to energize the discipline of clinical and translational science.

The Institute of Translational Health Sciences is a consortium of six UW health science professional schools and multiple partner institutions covering 12 sites, involving 67 key scientific personnel, and connecting researchers to more than 150 centers. This CTSA site includes the University of Washington, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, and the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research, which will educate the public about translational research and the importance of participating in clinical trials.

The institute is led by Principal Investigator Mary L. “Nora” Disis, M.D., associate dean for Translational Science in the UW School of Medicine, UW professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology, director of the UW Center for Translational Medicine in Women’s Health, and member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The institute will integrate research and clinical institutions across the five-state region of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WWAMI) via collaborative pathways that are part of the successful WWAMI program led by the University of Washington School of Medicine. Features of the Institute of Translational Health Sciences include:

• a community engagement plan which considers diversity across race, ethnicity, culture, rural and urban locations, geography, health status and health service delivery in partnership with Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies;

• an integrated ethics program linking adult and pediatric medical centers in partnership with Children’s Hospital; and

• advanced capability for therapeutic product development and clinical testing, in conjunction with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, aimed at enhancing future health care in the region.

In addition, six American Indian/Native American network sites have been invited to partner with the institute, including Seattle Indian Health Board, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Native Health Clinic (Spokane, Wash.), South Puget Sound Intertribal Planning Agency (Shelton, Wash.), Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (Anchorage, Alaska), and the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council (Billings, Mont.)

“As a part of this national consortium, the institute will be able to foster new health science interactions across the sites through technology, education and research support efforts,” Disis said. “Not only will our partner institutions and network sites here in the Northwest help us accelerate health sciences research, but we’ll be able to leverage expertise and resources across the CTSA institutions nationwide to provide new treatments more quickly and efficiently to patients.”

The CTSA initiative grew out of the NIH commitment to re-engineer the clinical research enterprise, one of the key objectives of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. This round of awards includes partnerships with three minority research centers; three institutions led by women principal investigators; and connections with an additional four national primate research centers, which will help bring discoveries in animal models more quickly into clinical practice. In addition to the UW, the following institutions are receiving awards in this second round of CTSA funding:

• Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio)

• Emory University (Atlanta, Ga.), partnering with Morehouse School of Medicine

• Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.)

• University of Chicago (Chicago, Ill.)

• University of Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa)

• University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

• University of Texas SW Medical Center (Dallas, Texas)

• University of Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.)

• Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tenn.), partnering with Meharry Medical College

• Washington University (St. Louis, Mo.)

• Weill Medical College of Cornell University (New York, N.Y.), partnering with Hunter College

A third funding opportunity announcement for CTSAs has been issued, calling for the next round of applications to be submitted by Nov. 7 with the awards expected in June 2008. For more information, visit http://www.ctsaweb.org.