UT Southwestern Medical Center has received a new $28.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to promote rapid translation of basic laboratory findings into patient care.

The grant, a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), will be administered through the Center for Translational Medicine at UT Southwestern. With this award, UT Southwestern will join a national Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium that includes 61 medical research institutions working collaboratively to improve bench-to-bedside translation across the country.

The Center for Translational Medicine leverages the scientific strengths of UT Southwestern and the institution’s broad base of clinical practice. The new state-of-the artWilliam P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, opening in 2014, will provide an important opportunity to expand clinical research and ensure that new knowledge is effectively disseminated to improve patient care.

“Advancing a new therapy or medicine from the moment of discovery to the hands of physicians is a significant challenge from a scientific, regulatory, and practical standpoint,” said Dr. Robert Toto, Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research and Director of the Center for Translational Medicine. “Our vision is to better enable investigators to discover, translate, and disseminate new knowledge that improves the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and effective treatment of disease,” said Dr. Toto, who is also Principal Investigator of UT Southwestern’s CTSA.

UT Southwestern’s first CTSA, which was funded in 2007 and directed by Dr. Milton Packer, established highly successful programs to educate and train clinical and translational scientists, provided pilot grants, and bolstered biomedical informatics (BMI), biostatistics, population research, community health science, and patient-centered outcomes research.

The latest award from NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences will build upon these many accomplishments. Moreover, several new clinical and translational researchers have been recruited into leadership positions, and the infrastructure to support biomedical researchers has been enhanced.

The award will take advantage of the new Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, and two hospitals now under construction: the William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital and the new Parkland Memorial Hospital. Both hospitals incorporate novel design elements to seamlessly support translational research alongside the clinical care provided.

UT Southwestern’s Center for Translational Medicine will focus on programs to:

  • Identify and validate clinically relevant targets for therapies and diagnosis.
  • Promote the discovery of new disease-causing genes.
  • Enhance the ability to assess disease presence and predict progression using state-of-the-art imaging and biomarker analysis.
  • Augment programs in population science and community engagement to promote the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases to improve overall health.

As a result of receiving this new funding, clinical and translational researchers will have improved access to new technologies and imaging equipment; assistance for statistical analysis, including analysis of very large data sets; and development of assays to measure biomarkers and metabolites. In addition, the Center will have a centralized repository for tissue specimens that will be made available to researchers.

“UT Southwestern excels in biomedical research across the spectrum of translational science, which makes the medical center a perfect fit for this award,” said Dr. Toto, Professor of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences. “The best research evolves from the unique collaborations found at academic medical centers, and UT Southwestern is well recognized for its fluent interactions between scientists and clinicians who work in diverse specialties. Doing so is a tradition and principle that the medical center was founded on.”

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