June 14, 2011
Kansas City, Kan. — Patients will gain faster access to the benefits of health research throughout the region thanks to a grant announced today.
The University of Kansas Medical Center has received a $19,794,046 Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The five-year grant puts the medical center among an elite, 60-member group of universities collaborating on clinical and translational research, which transforms laboratory discoveries into treatments and cures.
Launched by the NIH in 2006, the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program goals are to speed laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, to work with communities in clinical research efforts, and to train a new generation of researchers to bring cures and treatments to patients faster. With its new grant, KU Medical Center will create a program called Frontiers, greatly expanding the reach of its existing Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, which has been the center of clinical and translational research for Kansas and the greater Kansas City region.
Scientists at KU have been doing translational research for years. For example, clinical trials are now being held for an ovarian cancer drug that KU researchers have reformulated so that it can be delivered in a patient's abdomen instead of intravenously, which caused negative side effects. Other scientists have discovered that DHA, the omega-3 fatty acid common in fish oil, may help infants develop better attention skills. In part, as a result of this research, DHA is now added to many infant formulas. Other researchers are studying whether exercise can slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
"This award is recognition that KU Medical Center now stands among the national leaders in health and health care research," said Barbara F. Atkinson, MD, Executive Vice Chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center. "The grant will give our researchers tremendous momentum and resources as we move towards our ultimate goal of making our state and region a healthier place to live."
"The University of Kansas Medical Center has consistently been a leader in making discoveries that benefit patients. This award is evidence that the national scientific community recognizes our achievements in turning research into treatments and cures," said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, PhD. "We will use this award to further our work with communities in identifying their health care needs. And we will now work within the network of leading institutions around the country to address emerging issues in health care."
Kansas leaders welcomed news of the award. "This is a significant accomplishment for the state and region," said Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer. "It reflects well on all of the individuals and organizations who've worked hard to reach this goal. Now, we look forward to the exciting health opportunities it brings to the area and the economic activity associated with the initiatives."
Atkinson expressed appreciation to the grant's principal investigators, Richard J. Barohn, MD, chair of the KU Medical Center Department of Neurology, and Lauren S. Aaronson, PhD, RN, professor in the KU School of Nursing and Department of Health Policy and Management. "Drs. Barohn and Aaronson worked tirelessly over the past several years to develop the programs and forge the partnerships that led to this successful grant application."
"We see great opportunities with this new award to train the next generation of clinical and translational researchers and to build upon our established successes," Barohn said. "We will now be able to play a larger, national role in improving the lives of patients across a spectrum of diseases."
"This award is the result of the collaborative efforts of researchers, educators, clinicians and community leaders across our region and state, all with the shared vision of improving the health of our citizens. We look forward to continuing and strengthening these collaborations," said Aaronson.
Over the past several years, Aaronson and Barohn successfully brought together regional partners to build this research infrastructure. Health-care-provider partners include The University of Kansas Hospital, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, St. Luke's Hospital, the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Kansas City, Truman Medical Center, Swope Health Services, the Center for Behavioral Medicine, and Wesley Medical Center and Via Christi Health System in Wichita. In addition to the university's Lawrence and Wichita campuses, academic partners are the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.
Most of the new Frontiers operations will be conducted at the new University of Kansas Clinical Research Center in Fairway. Set to open in early 2012, the center is the northern point of the Johnson County Education and Research Triangle.