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ATLANTA — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded more than $31 million over five years – one of the largest NIH grants in Georgia history – to a partnership of Atlanta academic, research and health-care institutions focused on accelerating the translation of laboratory discoveries into health-care innovations for patients.
The partnership, named the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute (ACTSI), is led by Emory University, along with Morehouse School of Medicine, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
The primary partner institutions, along with major collaborators, will match the NIH award in additional financial commitments, space, personnel and other support. Georgia collaborators include the Georgia Research Alliance, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Georgia Bio (formerly the Georgia Biomedical Partnership), and Grady Memorial Hospital and Health System.
The award is part of a new national clinical research consortium launched last year by the NIH and supported through Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs). Part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, the consortium is designed to spur the transformation of clinical and translational research in the U.S. so that new treatments can be developed more efficiently and delivered more quickly to patients.
As one of the early CTSA partners, the Atlanta CTSI is among the 12 recipients announced Wednesday that will join 12 announced in 2006 in a national network that will include 60 CTSAs when fully implemented in 2012.
"The Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) will harness the tremendous and diverse scientific, technological and clinical strengths of these partner institutions,” said Dr. David S. Stephens, executive associate dean for research at Emory University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the grant. “The institute will function as a citywide magnet for clinical and translational research using discovery, training and community engagement to improve the healthcare of the Atlanta community.”
"We have a unique opportunity to transform healthcare and eliminate health disparities by actively engaging the broader physician community, and sharing best practices,” said Elizabeth Ofili, associate dean for clinical research, Morehouse School of Medicine and co-principal investigator. “Such academic community partnerships are critical to the success of the Atlanta CTSI as we work to effectively translate scientific discoveries to improve the health of all Atlantans.”
The goals of the Atlanta CTSI mirror those of the national CTSA consortium – to create new and innovative programs that accelerate discovery, engage communities in clinical research and the development of new scientific knowledge; train and develop interdisciplinary investigative teams; and create new research tools and information technologies that improve human health.
"This grant will bolster our research efforts and produce real solutions to improve the health of Georgia’s citizens,” said Gov. Sonny Perdue. “This announcement is another step along Georgia’s path to becoming a leader in healthcare research. Georgia is a center for innovation and collaboration, and we will continue to seek out opportunities to capitalize on Georgia’s resources and talent.”
"Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Tech and Children’s all are distinguished national leaders in educational excellence, innovative multidisciplinary research and ethical and effective engagement with the community,” said Dr. Michael M.E. Johns, chief executive officer of Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center. “The existing solid partnerships and the commitment of these Atlanta institutions to contribute their intellectual strengths, resources, technologies and clinical facilities to this joint effort provide an extraordinary opportunity to create a national model for translating research discoveries into the most advanced patient care.”
Each institution will contribute strengths to the partnership that will help create unique and valuable synergies. Emory is a national leader in healthcare and biomedical research and Georgia Tech is a national leader in biomedical engineering and the application of innovative systems engineering to health care solutions. Morehouse School of Medicine is a leading historically black institution that brings ethnic diversity to the biomedical research community, addresses health disparities through successful community engagement and serves as a pipeline for training minority investigators.
By partnering with Children’s, the ACTSI also will create a new and innovative pediatric clinical and translational research center that builds on the established relationships of Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine and Children’s and the shared healthcare they provide and adds new research relationships with Georgia Tech in bioinformatics.
“This grant is a clear indication of the quality of the researchers at Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Tech and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the strong partnerships they have formed,” said Dr. Thomas J. Lawley, dean of Emory University School of Medicine.
Collaborations with and strong support from the Georgia Research Alliance will create opportunities to foster and accelerate the development and application of new and emerging technologies, an effort also facilitated through Georgia Bio. Collaborations with Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the VA Medical Center will enable dynamic community, public health, informatics and population studies programs.
The Atlanta CTSI will bring together laboratory scientists with clinical investigators, community clinicians, professional societies, and industry collaborators in a wide variety of dynamic programs and research projects. The institute will apply new research methods in genomics, imaging, nanotechnology, proteomics, metabolomics, glycomics and informatics to develop the most advanced and innovative therapies. It also will create and sustain partnerships with Atlanta’s diverse communities to support community-based clinical research.