UB’s New Research Center to Benefit Patients and Region

CTRC.

Published February 13, 2012

The stage is set for medical advances at UB's Clinical and Translational Science Institute. The facility will be housed in the $291 million joint UB-Kaleida Health building under construction on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

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“The CTSI will be one of a few such centers in the country focused on translational research with clinicians and researchers in the same building. ”
Timothy F. Murphy, MD
Director of the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research, SUNY Distinguished Professor

The CTRC will serve as an invaluable research facility for UB physicians, researchers and medical students.

It is scheduled to open in the fall, while the Kaleida Health portion of the building, the Gates Vascular Institute, will open this spring.

Construction for UB’s new medical school on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is scheduled to begin in fall 2013.

Improving Health Care, Bolstering the Economy

The medical advances that the CTRC generates will capitalize on the region’s greatest strengths—medical research and patient care, says its director, Timothy F. Murphy, MD, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research.

In the following Q&A, Murphy defines clinical and translational research and explains why it will produce dividends for the quality of health care in Buffalo and the local economy.

What is the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute?

The UB-owned-and-operated CTRC is a 170,000-square-foot research facility within the joint UB-Kaleida Health building that will feature:

  • modern, open-architecture laboratories for up to 31 principal investigators
  • a Clinical Research Center with eight examination rooms and an adjacent biorepository that will allow researchers to collect, store and catalog valuable tissue samples to study a wide variety of diseases
  • state-of the-art research imaging facilities including magnetic resonance imaging, computing tomography and positron emission tomography
  • the UB Biosciences Incubator, which will help UB researchers develop medical products and businesses that spin off from UB faculty research
  • administrative offices for the Buffalo CTRC consortium, the Clinical and Translational Research Training Office and the UB Community Engagement Office

What is clinical and translational research?

Clinical research pertains to studies of diseases and treatments that take place in human subjects.

Translational research is the field that strives to expedite medical breakthroughs from bench to bedside. The field was established to overcome the barrier that exists between basic scientific discoveries made in the lab and the clinical care that patients receive.

Clinical and translational research puts an emphasis on collaborative teams of investigators with diverse disciplines who tackle complex health and research challenges.

The goal is to expedite creation of new medical tests, treatments and cures, propelling them from the laboratory to the physicians and their patients who need them.

What is happening nationally in clinical and translational research?

It is a major national priority. In December, the National Institutes of Health established the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

UB’s decision several years ago to invest resources to grow clinical and translational research was remarkably forward looking and demonstrates a tremendous institutional commitment to this new, innovative field. Our success will help UB rise in the ranks not only of biomedical research but among leading universities nationwide.

What is the purpose of the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute?

To serve as an integrated academic home for outstanding clinical and translational science and as the hub of the Buffalo Translational Consortium, providing innovative research tools, support, training, resources and coordination.

The CTRC will transform the environment for clinical and translational science in Western New York by:

  • creating a collaborative research environment to reduce barriers between academic disciplines and institutions to facilitate exceptional clinical and translational research that maximizes resources and reduces redundancy
  • promoting the effective use, reuse, sharing and dissemination of data while ensuring data security and conformity to best practices of information-driven research
  • training the next generation of creative clinical and translational researchers through innovative programs that attract the most talented trainees through integrating and expanding existing multidisciplinary programs
  • strengthening community-based clinical and translational research to improve health regionally and nationally
  • contributing nationally through active collaboration, conducting innovative research and developing novel methods that will be shared with other investigators

What is UB’s CTRC doing already to foster clinical and translational research?

Among the programs we have already initiated are:

1. A weekly core curriculum seminar series

Last year we launched a series in clinical and translational research modeled after 14 core competencies developed by a national committee. The quality of the seminars has been absolutely outstanding and attendance by trainees and faculty has been quite good. When the CTRC building opens, this series will be held in the building's conference center; all sessions will be video recorded and made widely available.

Roseanne C. Berger, MD, senior associate dean for graduate medical education, led this initiative.

2. Medical student summer research fellowships

The UB medical school and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center have been jointly awarded a prestigious National Institutes of Health T35 training grant, which supports summer research projects that introduce medical students to careers in clinical and translational research.

The fellowships give medical students a chance to experience translational research early in their medical school education.

3. A pilot studies grant program

Winners of these grants are chosen on the likelihood that their research will attract external funding.

Awardees of the most recent round of funding will be announced in February, after the proposals undergo two rounds of peer review.

The Buffalo Translational Consortium spearheaded the program. A total of $200,000 has been contributed by:

  • the dean's offices of UB's five health sciences schools
  • the UB Office of the Vice President for Research
  • the UB Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences
  • Roswell Park

This major commitment of resources by the institutions of the Buffalo Translational Consortium attests to the broad-based support of clinical and translational research in the region.

4. A graduate program in clinical research

This new initiative offers a specialized track for students pursuing a master’s of science in epidemiology, a degree program in UB School of Public Health and Health Professions. It provides rigorous scholarly training into research design methods, a critical piece of the clinical and translational research enterprise.

The program is led by Jo L. Freudenheim, UB Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, and Carl K. Li, research assistant professor and director of graduate studies for the department.

These four initiatives are just the beginning of the kinds of programs the CTRC will support.

What are the CTRC’s specific strengths?

The CTRC will be one of a few such centers in the country focused on translational research with clinicians and researchers in the same building. The participation of UB’s five health sciences schools is a major strength because few academic health centers have this range of disciplines with clinical and translational research programs.

With its impressive range of the health sciences, UB is in a very strong position to best leverage research collaborations both inside the university and with external partners.

In addition, UB is home to numerous high-profile national endeavors, including:

  • the Women’s Health Initiative
  • the world’s longest running COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) trial
  • landmark clinical trials demonstrating relationships between periodontal disease, heart disease and stroke
  • new programs in electronic medical records
  • cutting-edge cardiovascular research
  • the development of innovative devices for treating vascular disease

In addition, a number of physician-scientists at UB and Roswell Park are helping establish national guidelines on key clinical questions that guide clinicians on how to best care for patients.

What is the Buffalo Translational Consortium?

The Buffalo Translational Consortium, formed in 2009, is composed of 11 educational, health care and research institutions and four community partners in the Buffalo and Western New York region.

Each institution is represented in the governance of the UB CTRC; investigators and faculty from each institution help lead it.

The partners include:

Faculty and researchers from other UB academic units, including the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Graduate School of Education, have made major contributions as well.