NIH awards UB $15 million clinical and translational science grant

Highly selective award will accelerate moving scientific breakthroughs in Buffalo “from bench to bedside”

Release Date: August 13, 2015 This content is archived.

“It gives us the ability to realize the value of these collaborations at an even higher level — empowering us as we move discoveries from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside, improve patient care and enhance economic development in Western New York by successfully commercializing scientific breakthroughs.”
UB President Satish K. Tripathi

Editor's note: A previous version of this news release stated UB received $16 million. The correct amount is $15 million.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo has been awarded a prestigious, four-year, $15 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to speed the delivery of new drugs, diagnostics and medical devices to patients.

The grant will establish the UB Clinical and Translational Research Center as the hub of the Buffalo Translational Consortium. UB is the lead institution of the consortium in partnership with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the Great Lakes Health System, UBMD and community health organizations.

“This award recognizes and leverages the strong research and clinical collaborations UB and our partners on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) have built,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi. “It gives us the ability to realize the value of these collaborations at an even higher level — empowering us as we move discoveries from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside, improve patient care and enhance economic development in Western New York by successfully commercializing scientific breakthroughs.”

The award puts UB and the Buffalo Translational Consortium, composed of clinical and research institutions on the BNMC, into an elite tier of institutions.

“As home to the nation's first cancer center, this prestigious federal grant recognizes the high-impact clinical research already taking place here in Western New York and will provide a major boost to the collaborative synergy between the University at Buffalo, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Great Lakes Health and other partners within the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, co-chair of the Congressional NIH Caucus. “This is a great tribute to UB and its partner institutions receiving the award, but the real excitement comes with the hope this grant provides to every patient and family touched by disease and anxiously awaiting the lifesaving treatments and cures this award makes possible.”

“This substantial federal funding will allow UB, Roswell, Great Lakes Health and their partners to be in the major leagues in the life-saving race for better treatments and cures for cancer, diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer. “Because of this funding, the world-class medical research happening in Western New York will be translated into real-life cancer treatments and solutions for patients around the world, which will create jobs, support the local economy and, most importantly – save lives. This is truly a game-changer for building an entirely new infrastructure to fight diseases in Western New York, and across our state."

“This federal funding will enable the University at Buffalo to further enhance its medical and clinical research programs through partnerships with several health organizations,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “The new Clinical and Translational Research Center will provide critical resources to help advance cutting edge research and scientific breakthroughs in patient health and wellness.”

“UB will now be competing for the highly selective awards for which only CTSA institutions may apply,” said Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Those grants will increase UB’s capacity for doing high-impact, clinical research, which will bring health care innovations to Buffalo so that people in our community can participate in, and benefit from, these groundbreaking studies.”

With the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as the main UB entity, the Buffalo Translational Consortium involves the university’s five health sciences schools and other UB schools and research institutes. Also partnering on the grant are local research institutes, such as the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, as well as community partners, such as the P2 Collaborative, HEALTHeLINK, UNYNET, the New York State Area Health Education Center System and the Patient Voices Network.

“The whole idea behind translational science is to devise better ways to do clinical research that will improve the health of the community and contribute to clinical research in the nation,” said Timothy Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in UB’s Department of Medicine and principal investigator on the grant. John M. Canty, MD, also a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine, is co-principal investigator.

“The funds will be used to augment the infrastructure and expertise to enable UB and its partners to maximize our research potential so that, for example, more large, high-impact, multi-center clinical trials can be conducted here,” said Murphy. “It’s clear that the best patient care goes hand-in-hand with outstanding clinical research. This grant will benefit our entire academic health center by raising the level of research, health care and training.”

Uniting medical and research institutions across WNY

“The CTSA project unites virtually every medical-research organization in the Buffalo area, along with key community partners, around the shared goal of improving health care locally, nationally and internationally by getting Western New York innovations to the patients who can benefit most,” said Candace S. Johnson, PhD, president and CEO and Wallace Family Chair in Translational Research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

“Roswell Park is proud to be a member of the consortium that successfully competed with groups across the country to receive this prestigious award, and to lead the project’s clinical implementation,” Johnson continued. “Together we have tremendous strengths of human capital and visionary research, assets that we can now exploit to their fullest with this influx of infrastructure support.”

Jody Lomeo, president and CEO of Kaleida Health, said, “This is great news, not only for UB but for the Western New York community. The Gates Vascular Institute and the Clinical and Translational Research Center are a tangible example of how collaboration is helping improve patient care. The NIH grant will only help further this partnership and leverage the great research and clinical care that happens every day there.”

An interdisciplinary approach

Clinical and translational research puts an emphasis on engaging collaborative teams of investigators from diverse disciplines to 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 the patients who need them.

Murphy envisions “significant growth” in the hiring of new research personnel with a variety of backgrounds to perform clinical and translational research. Funds also will go toward funding parts of high-level faculty lines.

Reviewers cited several unique aspects of UB’s grant, including UB programs that have expanded outreach to the city’s underserved populations, such as the Department of Family Medicine’s Patient Voices Network. They also noted the medical school’s new program in biomedical informatics and the interdisciplinary Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics. Also noted was UB’s history of expertise in medical ontology, the science of how medical entities are classified and the relationships between them, which has become increasingly important with the advent of big data and bioinformatics.

The new center will be based in the Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) building on UB’s downtown campus, which opened in 2012. The CTRC is a unique 170,000-square-foot research facility that allows UB's physician-scientists to do their research upstairs in the CTRC and to see patients and work with clinicians downstairs in Kaleida Health's Gates Vascular Institute and at Buffalo General Medical Center, the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is beginning a new chapter in its history with the largest medical education building under construction in the nation. The eight-story, 628,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in 2017. The new location puts superior medical education, clinical care and pioneering research in close proximity, anchoring Buffalo’s evolving comprehensive academic health center in a vibrant downtown setting.  These new facilities will better enable the school to advance health and wellness across the life span for the people of New York and the world through research, clinical care and the education of tomorrow’s leaders in health care and biomedical sciences. The school’s faculty and residents provide care for the community’s diverse populations through strong clinical partnerships and the school’s practice plan, UBMD.

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