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NIH awards $19 million to Institute for Clinical & Translational Science


Aug. 26, 2015 — UC Irvine's Institute for Clinical & Translational Science (ICTS) will receive $19 million over four years from the National Institutes of Health to continue speeding the transformation of scientific discoveries into medical advances for patients.

The grant is a continuation of the Clinical & Translational Science Award of $20 million given to the campus in 2010. UC Irvine is the only medical research institution in Orange County to have earned the competitive award, and it’s part of a prestigious national consortium of 62 CTSA beneficiaries dedicated to leveraging science to improve human health.

"With this award, UC Irvine continues to forge a new direction for clinical research in the U.S. for a generation to come," said Dr. Dan Cooper, institute director and professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics. "This renewal grant will accelerate our endeavors to build effective, multidisciplinary research teams to tackle important health issues, and it will further bolster efforts to involve our community in the excitement of clinical discovery as partners."

Specifically, Cooper said, the award will help ICTS create or continue to support a wide array of projects, including:

  • Bringing to commercialization state-of-the-art devices no larger than a pinhead that help physicians determine the health of tissues while patients undergo surgery
  • Innovative pilot studies to develop new ways of diagnosing and treating cerebral palsy early in life
  • Novel approaches to mining the "big data" of all 13 million University of California health records to identify trends in disease and the success of new therapies with unprecedented power
  • Improving the understanding of how physical exercise lessens the impact of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Identifying new classes of drugs that kill cancer cells by starving them
  • Creating new teams of researchers, clinicians, patients and families across the UC system to tackle autism and uncommon illnesses such as Kawasaki’s disease
  • Building bridges with the community of health advocacy groups, practicing physicians and governmental agencies to ensure that UC Irvine healthcare discoveries are implemented rapidly throughout the area
  • Training and mentoring the next generation of clinical scientists and instilling the principles of team science in improving health

The institute used the first award, $20 million, to help multiply the number of incoming grants, stimulate important scientific discoveries and work with community partners to identify and resolve health needs in the region.

ICTS has provided services or support to 885 researchers who subsequently produced 733 peer-reviewed publications and garnered more than $276 million in grants. For pilot grant recipients, the return on investment in terms of new extramural grants was 12.7-fold. This means that UC Irvine clinicians and scientists are well on their way to new discoveries that can directly impact human health.

Several years ago, after Orange County had lost three teenagers to the syndrome of sudden death associated with physical activity, ICTS organized a town hall conference with community partners to identify ways of preventing such deaths in the future. This led to the placement of automated external defibrillators in all Orange County high schools. In November 2014, a 14-year-old boy suffered cardiac arrest while playing basketball at a local high school. Two coaches who had been trained to use the school’s AED successfully resuscitated the teen.

"Our mission is to catalyze the generation of innovative methods and technologies that enhance the development, testing and implementation of diagnostics and therapeutics across a wide range of human diseases and conditions," said Dr. Christopher Austin, director of the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. "Advances in these areas will enable others in both the public and private sectors to develop drugs and diagnostics more efficiently for any number of human diseases — ultimately accelerating the pace at which new therapeutics are delivered to the patients who need them."

About the CTSA program: Supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Clinical & Translational Science Award program was launched in 2006 and has expanded to 62 academic medical institutions across the country. This consortium aims to improve human health by transforming the research and training environment to enhance the efficiency and quality of clinical and translational research. Learn more about the CTSA program ›

About UC Irvine: Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, UC Irvine is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, the university has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It is located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy.