VCU First Virginia Institution to Join National Network of Academic Research Centers Moving Discoveries from Labs to Patients

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Virginia Commonwealth University announced Wednesday it has received a $20 million grant – the largest federal award in its history – from the National Institutes of Health to become part of a nationwide consortium of research institutions working to turn laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients.

Learning through research is a hallmark of VCU and this award catalyzes VCU's ability to advance the economy of Virginia as one of the major research universities

Virginia Commonwealth University announced Wednesday it has received a $20 million grant – the largest federal award in its history – from the National Institutes of Health to become part of a nationwide consortium of research institutions working to turn laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients.

The Clinical and Translational Science Award makes VCU the only academic health center in Virginia to join a national consortium of research centers sponsored by NIH's National Center for Research Resources. This network of academic research institutions accelerates the transformation of laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engages communities in clinical research and trains a new generation of clinical and translational researchers.

The NIH announced Wednesday that VCU was among nine institutions selected this year, bringing membership to 55 centers in 28 states and the District of Columbia. When the program is fully implemented, it will support approximately 60 CTSAs across the nation.

"Learning through research is a hallmark of VCU and this award catalyzes VCU's ability to advance the economy of Virginia as one of the major research universities," said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and the VCU Health System. "The CTSA award is not only a significant achievement for VCU, but also for Virginia and the country as our research moves from the laboratory to the bedside to save and improve lives."

VCU joins the consortium through its Center for Clinical and Translational Research, or CCTR, a comprehensive matrix center that will support VCU’s efforts to strengthen ties with affiliates and community partners to better share resources and respond to community health needs.

“VCU will bring additional talent and expertise to the CTSA consortium in such areas as substance abuse, women's health and rehabilitation science, outreach to communities and systems to share research information,” said Barbara Alving, M.D., director of the NCRR.

“This is a transformational moment for VCU in terms of our status as a research university,” said Sheldon Retchin, M.D., vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System. “This draws on the reputation the university has developed in community-based participatory research and its national reputation for delivery of care to the underserved members of the community,” he said.

Through the VCU CCTR, researchers will benefit from centralized management, Web-based data sharing, training and access to a rich array of resources, including biostatistics, ethics, research study and regulatory support. In addition, students can pursue a transdisciplinary education through the center’s M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs in clinical and translational science.

"This award will engage academic units across the university in a common purpose,” said Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine. “Effective translational research requires the combined expertise of multiple disciplines and a culture of collaboration.

“With its outstanding health system and distinguished health and biomedical science-related schools, VCU is uniquely positioned to make significant contributions to the health of all Americans,” Strauss said.

John Clore, M.D., associate vice president for clinical research and principal investigator for the grant, said the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at VCU “will train the next generation of clinical investigators to pool medical informatics, genetics, basic science, clinical research together – and working with the community – to develop a whole new way to do research with a whole new group of investigators that are trained differently, and uniquely, to answer the needs of the 21st century.”

About VCU and the VCU Medical Center: Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located on two downtown campuses in Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 32,000 students in 211 certificate and degree programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-nine of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University compose the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see http://www.vcu.edu.

About NCRR: The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of NIH, provides laboratory scientists and clinical researchers with the resources and training they need to understand, detect, treat and prevent a wide range of diseases. NCRR supports all aspects of translational and clinical research, connecting researchers, patients and communities across the nation. For more information, visit http://www.ncrr.nih.gov.

About NIH:The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.    

News Directors: Broadcast access to VCU experts can be arranged through the university’s VideoLink ReadyCam studio. To schedule a live or taped interview, contact the VCU Office of Communications and Public Relations, 804-828-1231. Once the interview is confirmed with VCU, networks will call the VideoLink Operations Center at 617-340-4300 to coordinate the shot.

CONTACT: Anne Buckley
VCU Communications and Public Relations
804-828-6052
Email: albuckley(at)vcu(dot)edu
http://www.news.vcu.edu

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