Biomedical researchers in seven Western states will share in a new $20.4-million federal grant led by scientists at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (HSC), it was announced Thursday.
The National Institutes of Health funding will support a new clinical and translational research infrastructure network, charged with developing new drugs, devices and medical best practices. The award exemplifies the Health Sciences Center’s continued growth despite declining federal research funding, says Dr. Richard S. Larson, HSC executive vice chancellor and the grant’s principal investigator.
“This is a tremendous achievement,” Larson continues. “It will for the first time give us an opportunity to comprehensively and collaboratively build biomedical research throughout the Mountain West states. I anticipate that this will be a platform for further strengthening our relationships with other institutions in the region.”
UNM’s $5.3-million share of the grant will pay for visiting professors, new training programs and provide for mini-sabbaticals by researchers from a dozen partner universities in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Wyoming, Larson adds. UNM also will contribute its expertise by leading the clinical research design, epidemiology and biostatistics portion of the program.
Dr. Pope Moseley, Chair of Internal Medicine at the UNM School of Medicine, will serve as the grant’s program director, along with co-director Bill Shuttleworth, UNM’s Regent’s Professor of Neurosciences.
Translational science speeds the process of making basic biological discoveries, medical best practices and inventions available to patients. It brings together experts from such diverse fields as molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry and engineering and promotes economic development in the form of public-private partnerships.
The new grant comes through the Institutional Development Award program, established in 1993 to boost biomedical research in states that historically have had little success in receiving NIH research grants. The application was submitted by the Mountain West Research Consortium, a partnership created in 2009 and coordinated by UNM to enhance collaboration among geographically isolated institutions in the West.
The Health Sciences Center is taking a lead role in coordinating the consortium because it already has a well-developed research program. In 2010 it became just one of 60 U.S. universities to receive a Clinical Translational Science Award, which led to creation of the Clinical and Translational Sciences Center, overseen by Larson.
Last year, the Health Sciences Center received about $150 million in extramural funding in the form of more than 900 grants. Its researchers focus on six signature programs: brain and behavioral illness, infectious disease, cancer, children’s health, environmental health, and cardiovascular and metabolic disease. In each of these programs, grants span the process from basic discovery to hospital-based research to community based research.
For more information, on the UNM Clinical & Translational Science Center, visit http://hsc.unm.edu/research/ctsc/.