BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The stage is set for some important medical
advances at the University at Buffalo's Clinical and Translational
Research Center (CTRC). The new UB facility will be housed in the
top four floors of the new $291 million joint UB-Kaleida Health
building now under construction at Goodrich and Ellicott streets on
the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
These advances will be a natural result of the region's greatest
strengths in medical research and patient care, says Timothy F.
Murphy, MD, director of UB's CTRC and senior associate dean for
clinical and translational research in the UB School of Medicine
and Biomedical Sciences.
The UB CTRC is scheduled to open in the fall and the Kaleida
Health portion of the building, the Gates Vascular Institute (GVI),
will open this spring. Construction of UB's new medical school
building is scheduled to begin in 2012 on the Buffalo Niagara
Medical Campus. The UB CTRC will be an invaluable research facility
for UB physicians, researchers and medical students.
In the following Q&A, Murphy defines clinical and
translational research and explains why it will produce dividends
for both the quality of health care in Buffalo and the local
What exactly is the UB Clinical and Translational Research
The UB-owned and operated CTRC is a 170,000-square-foot research
facility within the joint UB-Kaleida Health building. The CTRC will
be dedicated to clinical and translational research. It will
* modern, open-architecture laboratories for up to 31 principal
* a Clinical Research Center with eight examination rooms and an
adjacent bio-repository that will allow researchers to collect,
store and catalog valuable tissue samples to study a wide variety
of disease conditions
* state-of the-art research imaging facilities including
magnetic resonance imaging, computing tomography and positron
* the UB Biosciences Incubator that will aid UB researchers in
creation of medical products and businesses spun off from UB
* administrative offices for a Buffalo CTRC consortium led by
Murphy, the Clinical and Translational Research Training Office and
the UB Community Engagement Office.
What is clinical and translational research?
Clinical research involves any 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 put an emphasis on
collaborative teams of investigator who have diverse disciplines
and 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
Clinical and translational research is a major national
priority. In December, the National Institutes of Health
established the National Center for Advancing Translational
Sciences. (See http://www.nih.gov/news/health/dec2011/od-23.htm.)
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
What is the purpose of the UB Clinical and Translational
The purpose of the CTRC is 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 the Western New York region by:
* Creating a collaborative research environment to reduce
barriers between academic disciplines and between institutions to
facilitate exceptional clinical and translational research that
maximizes use of resources and reduces redundancy.
* Promoting the effective use, re-use, 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 training 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
We are not waiting for the building to open to initiate programs
to support clinical and translational researchers. Several programs
have been initiated and are being conducted as a result of
intensive planning over the past two years. We have taken the
approach that the CTRC is now functioning as a unit and will have a
physical home to expand and grow when the building opens.
Beginning in fall 2011, under the leadership of Roseanne C.
Berger, MD, senior associate dean for graduate medical education at
UB, we began a weekly core curriculum/seminar series in clinical
and translational research modeled after 14 core competencies
developed by a national expert 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 and all
sessions will be video recorded and made widely available.
The UB medical school and Roswell Park Cancer Institute have
been jointly awarded a prestigious National Institutes of Health
T35 training grant, which supports summer research projects that
introduce medial students to careers in clinical and translational
research. The program gives medical students, many of whom are more
attracted to medical specialties than they are to careers in
translational (academic) research, a chance to experience
translational research early during their medical school careers.
(See story at http://bit.ly/z7bhJ8)
Through a multi-institution strategic planning effort
spearheaded by the Buffalo Translational Consortium, a pilot
studies program in clinical and translational research is underway.
A total of $200,000 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
and Roswell Park will be awarded. Proposals are currently
undergoing two rounds of peer review. Winners, who will be
announced this month, will be chosen based on the likelihood that
their research would attract major extramural funding. 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.
As part of our planning efforts, the need to develop a
degree-granting program in clinical research was identified. After
an 18-month planning and application process, the UB School of
Public Health and Health Professions has just started a new
graduate program in clinical research, under the leadership of 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. This program, which is a clinical research
concentration in the MS in Epidemiology degree program, provides
rigorous scholarly training into research design methods, a
critical piece of the clinical and translational research
I view these four programs -- the core curriculum, the training
grant for medical students, the pilot studies program and the
graduate program in clinical research -- as just the beginning of
the types of programs that will be supported and conducted at the
What are the specific strengths of the UB CTRC?
The CTRC will be one of 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
In addition, UB is home to a range of such high-profile national
research programs as 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,
development of innovative devices for treating vascular disease and
others. In addition, a number of physician-scientists here at UB
and Rowell Park are playing leadership roles in the development of
national guidelines on key clinical questions that guide clinicians
throughout the U.S. on how to best care for patients.
What is the Buffalo Translational Consortium?
The Buffalo Translational Consortium (BTC), 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 play
leadership roles in the CTRC.
The partners include UB's five health sciences schools -- the
medical school, School of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing, the
School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the School of
Public Health and Health Professions -- as well as UBMD (the UB
medical school's practice plan), UB's New York State Center of
Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, the UB Research
Institute on Addictions, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the Great
Lakes Health System of Western New York and the Hauptman-Woodward
Medical Research Institute. Faculty and researchers from other
academic units at UB, 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.