College of Medicine Part of $50M NIH Grant

Posted on July 17, 2019
Marketing and Communications

As a regional partner for the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, the University of South Alabama College of Medicine is one of five academic institutions in the southeast taking part in three programmatic grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling nearly $50 million.

The innovative partner network – led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and comprised of 11 academic and scientific research institutions in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi – is the foundation for addressing health disparities through collaborative research and training efforts, providing transformational bench-to-bedside work for the foreseeable future.

Crossing institutional boundaries to improve human health and healthcare delivery, regional partners are working together to facilitate and promote unique opportunities including drug developments, integrative genomics, advanced magnetic resonance imaging and participant populations having disparities in clinical outcomes.

Dr. Mark Gillespie, professor and chair of pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine, serves as the site lead and principle investigator for USA Health. “The impact of this partner network is far reaching, extending into both patient care and health care provider education” he said. “It will provide additional opportunities for advanced training for medical students, residents, faculty members, and help students across the entire range of health care professions.”

Dr. Gillespie said the Center for Clinical and Translational Science also supports a number of core resources at USA Health, which directly benefits the patient population. “The partnership has led to our involvement in the All of Us Program and the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative,” he said. “Both programs allow constituents in our service areas to have their genomes sequenced. The accessible data provides useful information that can be shared with primary care providers for wellness preservation.”

Translational research – the idea of translating basic science discoveries into clinical practice – is the driving force behind this project. “Our institution plays a key role in the community engagement arm of the grant by concentrating on healthcare disparities in the southeast,” Dr. Gillespie said.

Driven by this mission and building on existing achievements and progress, the Center for Clinical and Translational Science partner network has organized an ambitious set of initiatives for the next five years. The center is developing a diverse, skilled translational workforce and engaging communities in trusting, productive relationships. It is advancing collaborative, coordinated data analytics and informatics, and promoting methodologically rigorous science enabled through valuable partnerships that address health issues of particular significance to the region.

Launched in 2015, the network shares a common purpose: to reduce the burden of cardio-metabolic, vascular and cancer-related diseases and health disparities that disproportionally affect the underserved minority and special populations in the Deep South.

The administrative hub for the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, located at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was established in 2008. The entity nurtures research locally, regionally and nationally through partnerships with academic health centers, research institutes and universities. It also accelerates the process of translating laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, facilities training of the next generation of clinical and translational researchers, and engages communities in research efforts.

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