VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research works to accelerate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients

Center begins its fourth year of National Institutes of Health CTSA grant

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In 2010, Virginia Commonwealth University received the single largest federal grant in its history, a $20 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health. Since that time, the home of VCU’s CTSA grant, the Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR), has taken its place among an elite consortium of 60 nationally prominent research institutions all focused on the importance of translational science.

“This has been an exciting time for the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research as we build and strengthen the bridge between basic science research and clinical applications,” said John Clore, M.D., director of the CCTR and professor in the Department of Internal Medicine in the VCU School of Medicine. “We’re working on our primary goals to enhance research infrastructure, promote collaboration among faculty, create and nurture community partnerships and train tomorrow’s translational scientists.”

Translational research seeks to advance science and foster partnerships to speed innovation and accelerate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients. Today’s medical translational research requires a collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach involving experts in many fields of study, including the health, life, physical, computer and social sciences, engineering, business, economics and others.

The CCTR provides the environment and opportunity for faculty members from across VCU to come together and work on innovative solutions to our most complex health questions.

The center provides a wide array of resources for faculty members, including a Research Incubator, Clinical Research Services to help manage clinical trials, Biomedical Informatics and Research Resources.

“Clinical Research Services provides trained study coordinators and project managers to assist investigators with their clinical research studies. We also help in recruiting clinical trial participants for the studies,” said Elizabeth Ripley, M.D., executive director of Clinical Research Services and professor in the Department of Internal Medicine. “We provide physical space within the VCU Medical Center and equipment that can be used for inpatient and outpatient clinical studies. In addition, there are research-trained nurses, dieticians and clinical laboratory personnel that work with the investigators.”

The CCTR is also creating strong relationships between VCU researchers and the greater Richmond community, including community practitioners, organizations and patients. Successful health research is dependent upon this collaboration, both in terms of translating evidence-based best practices into the community and identifying community-based needs to drive research efforts.

Translational research is a relatively new area of science, which means it’s imperative to develop an education program that trains a new generation of clinical and translational researchers. The CCTR’s Education core has created a curriculum that integrates multiple disciplinary perspectives and provides strong technological and computational skills.

One of the most important goals of the CCTR is creating a culture of collaborative research at VCU and working with other CTSA institutions within the nationwide consortium to transform the research and training environment to enhance the efficiency and quality of clinical and translational research.

“Much work has been done to coordinate our teams and services that we provide faculty, community members, patients and students,” Clore said. “We’re opening lines of communication and collaboration throughout the university and creating partnerships in the community. I am very excited about the transformative potential this groundwork will foster in innovative and advanced scientific research that will ultimately improve the delivery of health care that helps patients in our community and around the world.”