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Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute receives $30 million grant renewal

  • Oct. 22, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, a partnership among Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, has received nearly $30 million from the National Institutes of Health to continue its mission accelerating research discoveries across Indiana and beyond.

The Clinical and Translational Sciences Award from the NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences renews the grant that established the Indiana CTSI five years ago, guaranteeing the institution will advance innovative health care programs and biomedical research into at least 2018.

"We are pleased and honored to earn this grant support from the NIH," said Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana CTSI and associate dean for translational research and Raymond E. Houk Professor of Psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine. "I regard this award as a powerful vote of confidence in the Indiana CTSI's success over the past five years, as well as a promise on our part to achieve even greater heights going into the next phase of this project."

He added the grant is made all the more significant as it arrives at a time when the federal landscape includes overall reductions in scientific research dollars, as well as steep competition from more than 30 highly regarded research institutions across the U.S., all which vied for this same award.

The IU School of Medicine received its first $25 million NIH award to establish the Indiana CTSI in 2008, plus about $25 million in matching grants from IU and Purdue, the state of Indiana and public-private partners such as Eli Lilly and Co. Additional support arrived a year later as Notre Dame joined the partnership, as well as several multimillion-dollar "supplemental" awards from the NIH granted to create tuition support and fellowship programs to prepare new scientists to engage in clinical and translational research. The CTSA program represents the NIH’s largest single investment in clinical research.

"The CTSA Consortium is leading national efforts to enhance the efficiency, quality and safety of translational research, no matter the disease or condition," said NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D. "This aligns with the NCATS mission to create new technologies and methods that can be applied widely to streamline development and implementation of interventions that improve human health."

The Indiana CTSI's mission is to act as a statewide laboratory to advance translational research -- the practice of taking results from research labs and clinics into safe and innovative treatments and therapies used in medical practice. Since 2008, Indiana CTSI-funded researchers at the three partner universities have advanced discoveries in areas such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, autism, traumatic brain injury, polycystic kidney disease, and osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. 

Moreover, it's estimated that the Indiana CTSI pilot funds generated a 1,900 percent return on investment from 2008 to 2012, with $3.5 million in grants to scientists across the state attracting $65 million in federal research dollars and private investment over the same period. Indiana CTSI-funded researchers have also produced six technology licenses, 18 discovery disclosures, 22 patents and eight start-up companies.

In addition, Indiana CTSI estimates it supports more than 80 full-time equivalent professional jobs across Indiana.

"In 2009 alone, Indiana CTSI invested $1.1 million in scientists whose work later attracted more than $30 million in outside investment," Dr. Shekhar said. "These numbers show that our institute has become a powerful magnet to attract innovation and research dollars to Indiana. Our focus on partnerships with groups such as Eli Lilly and Company, Roche Diagnostics and Cook Medical Group -- as well as the patents, licenses and spinoffs we've fostered -- illustrate we're also playing a vital role fueling the state's economy."

These results have been achieved through three major efforts to strengthen the translational research pipeline across Indiana.

First, Indiana CTSI established expert consultant panels to help researchers consider how a proposed study could impact a disease's treatment from the earliest stages -- a new, highly practical approach to academic medicine. Second, it created programs to smooth every phase of the research process, such as easy access to advanced laboratory technologies, biostatical analysis and anonymous medical records; patient recruitment services to ensure adequate participation in clinical research studies; and legal and business services to encourage entrepreneurship.

Third, it developed education programs to foster the next generation of translational scientists -- ranging from summer internships for high school students to tuition support and fellowships for Ph.D. students and young faculty members.

The institute also significantly expanded clinical research space at IU, including a new 18,500-square-foot Children's Clinical Research Center at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and the Neurosciences Clinical Research Center at the IU Health Neurosciences Center adjacent to IU Health Methodist Hospital. It also reached an agreement with Covance Inc., a leading global drug development services company, to increase clinical trials conducted on behalf of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies at IU using a newly renovated 33,000-square-foot patient center at IU Health University Hospital, in addition to older space in the same building.

Looking ahead, Dr. Shekhar said the Indiana CTSI will maintain past programs as well as shift attention to projects that "break beyond the walls of academia" to tackle real-world issues such as health care delivery, drug development and public health policy. He cited programs in the works to analyze and improve health care delivery at local hospitals; to support joint projects between Midwestern medical schools and pharmaceutics companies; and to improve health among urban youth in Indianapolis and immigrant populations in rural Indiana as models for other communities. 

"The next five years will build upon our history of success to create a vehicle that breaks beyond the academic wall and starts to impact the health of the community," Dr. Shekhar said. "It's not only a natural growth in the scope of our goals but also the urgency of our mission."

About the Indiana CTSI

 The Indiana CTSI is a statewide collaboration of Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame to facilitate the translation of scientific discoveries in the lab into new patient treatments in Indiana and beyond. It was established in 2008 with a Clinical and Translational Science Award totaling nearly $60 million from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science at the National Institutes of Health (Grants UL1TR001108, KL2TR001106, TL1TR001107, UL1TR00006-05S2, KL2TR000163-05S1, TL1TR000162-05S1, TR000006, TR000163 and TR000162; PI: A. Shekhar) with additional support from the state, the three member universities, and public and private partners. It is a member of the national network of more than 60 CTSA-funded organizations across the country. 

Kevin Fryling