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Based on experience, collaboration will be enhanced with CTSA

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Story - CTSA Promises Experience Quantitative Health Sciences Chair Catarina I. Kiefe, MD, PhD

Quantitative Health Sciences Chair Catarina I. Kiefe, MD, PhD, is familiar with how a major grant like the CTSA can impact an  institution and its research capabilities: she was a co-principal investigator on a successful CTSA application when she was at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) prior to her appointment as chair and professor of quantitative health sciences and professor of medicine at UMMS. "The immediate, major impact was that everyone had to be much more interdisciplinary," said Dr. Kiefe. "The whole point of the program is to provide opportunities for faculty to work together across department and program lines. In the interest of science, teams were compelled to work in an interdisciplinary way."

A key to understanding the CTSA and its impact is this focus on research infrastructure in support of collaboration, especially among basic science and clinical science investigators. By creating an academic home for all translational research activities, UMMS plans to accelerate early phase translational research studies to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients; to engage communities in clinical research efforts; and to train a new generation of clinical researchers.

"This award is especially important to our efforts in community engagement and in education across the university," said Kiefe. "At UAB, for example, we were able to form real and substantive partnerships with the community at large, and we informed and led many research initiatives. Here at UMMS, we will hear from the community about their ideas and priorities, which will influence how we design and create research that has a community impact." Ira Ockene, MD, the David and Barbara Milliken Professor of Preventive Cardiology and professor of medicine, heads the community engagement core of the UMMS CTSA, which will help create community research partnerships to improve population health and well-being.

In areas across the research spectrum at UMMS, the CTSA impact is already apparent—the creation of clinical data warehouses, the new biorepository and the strategically redesigned Clinical Research Center all speak to the change in resources, infrastructure and organization coming to the institution. "By becoming part of this national research consortium, UMMS will be part of a very powerful vehicle for developing research resources and taking new ideas to tangible results," said Kiefe. "This grant is both a validation of our capacity for translational research and an incentive for us to take our work to the next level."