Funding will augment Marshall infrastructure to accommodate future research
Marshall University announced it is a partner with the University of Kentucky (UK) on a $19.8 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) that further develops clinical and translational science initiatives, emphasizing medical research relevant to the community and accelerating laboratory findings to the patient’s bedside.
As part of the federal grant to UK, Marshall will receive $640,000 over a four-year period which will continue to support the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine’s efforts to develop infrastructure and capacity for clinical and translational research through its recently formed Appalachian Clinical Translational Science Institute (ACTSI.)
According to ACTSI founding director, Uma Sundaram, M.D., the mission of the institute is to advance research and education to improve the health of central Appalachia. Since its inception in 2013, the ACTSI has facilitated more than $1 million in 50 pilot grants, created an i2b2-based clinical informatics warehouse (national network linking researchers to clinical research), participated in the recruitment of six new faculty members and is fully functional for clinical and translational science research in central Appalachia. The leadership team of the ACTSI organizes and provides all core activities important to carry out clinical and translational research similar to all other CTSA awarded institutions in the country.
“Marshall’s collaboration with the University of Kentucky is indicative of the success the school of medicine is seeing,” President Jerome A. Gilbert said. “The partnership with UK on this important, federally-funded grant will ultimately mean better health care for our state and the entire Appalachian community.”
School of Medicine Dean Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., said that the new grant complements other efforts that the school of medicine is making in research.
“This grant award means a lot more than just a dollar figure,” Shapiro said. “This award will help our investigators establish the School of Medicine as a clinical hub for clinical and translational research and raise our research profile. I am personally grateful to the dedicated faculty and administrators who made this step possible.”
Sundaram, who is the principal investigator (PI) for Marshall on this UK award as well as the PI for another recently awarded NIH grant, said such collaborations are designed to create the required infrastructure to position Marshall as the West Virginia clinical hub for future CTSA programs.
“It has been a privilege to work with an outstanding team of leaders who direct different areas of the ACTSI as we worked to obtain this very competitive grant with UK,” Sundaram said. “Since people in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky experience similar health care disparities, it is important for the two institutions in central Appalachia, UK and Marshall, to work together to address these many concerns, especially when economic resources are limited, as they are in this region.”
Sundaram went on to say, “With our previous funding, the ACTSI and the UK CCTS have had a very productive collaboration. Thus, it is gratifying that the NIH recognized this partnership and the importance of our patient population in the clinical and translational research national network.”
The national CTSA initiative is composed of 62 institutions across the country designed to quickly move laboratory innovations to patient care. Marshall’s ACTSI was established to function as the state’s clinical hub in the national consortium of CTSA institutions. ACTSI is also part of the Appalachian Translational Research Network which includes UK, the Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, West Virginia University, Ohio University and East Tennessee State University.
Philip A. Kern, M.D., director of the UK CCTS, said establishing research collaborations throughout the region allows for combination of efforts, resources and data to make the greatest possible impact in improving the health of individuals and communities.
“We are pleased to continue our partnership with Marshall University, through a sub-award from UK’s Clinical and Translational Science Award and through our shared membership in the Appalachian Translational Research Network, in the quest to address some of the most pressing health issues in our country,” Kern said.
Gary Rankin, Ph.D., vice dean for basic sciences at Marshall’s School of Medicine, said the ability to continue to the relationship with the Kentucky CTSA will clearly help Marshall make important advances.
“Our clinical and basic science researchers are also becoming more involved with the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Institute centered at West Virginia University, which also partners with the Kentucky CTSA. These working relationships are exciting and will provide an even broader network of clinical and translational researchers to improve the health of West Virginians and residents of the Appalachian area,” Rankin said.
For more information about the CTSA program, visit https://ncats.nih.gov/ctsa. For more information about the UK CCTS and its partners, visit www.ccts.uky.edu. For more information about the ACTSI, visit https://jcesom.marshall.edu/research/office-of-research-graduate-education/centers/actsi/