Yale receives CTSA award renewal to accelerate research discoveries

Yale School of Medicine has been awarded $53.6 million from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to renew its five-year Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) to accelerate research discoveries that can have a positive impact on health.
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Dr. Robert Sherwin, left, and Dr. Robert Alpern, dean of the Yale School of Medicine. (Photo by Robert Lisak)

Yale School of Medicine has been awarded $53.6 million from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to renew its five-year Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) to accelerate research discoveries that can have a positive impact on health.

This is the second renewal for Yale, which was among the first 12 institutions — and the only one in New England — to receive CTSA funding when the National Institutes of Health started the program in 2006. The award supports the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI), established in 2005 as part of Yale School of Medicine’s (YSM) strategic plan to develop an infrastructure to support research and educate the next generation of investigators. YCCI also receives support from YSM, Yale Medical Group, and Yale-New Haven Hospital.

“We’ve made incredible strides under the CTSA in establishing a robust infrastructure and resources for investigators,” said Dr. Robert J. Alpern, dean of YSM and the Ensign Professor of Medicine. “I’m delighted that CTSA support will allow us to continue to expand our research enterprise to support the acceleration of treatments from the bench to the bedside.”

Yale is one of more than 60 CTSA-funded hubs across the country. NCATS supports this network to improve the translational process so that more treatments are available to more patients more quickly.

Under the new award, there is an emphasis on speeding the discovery, development, and delivery of new treatments to improve health outcomes across the lifespan. To accomplish this, CTSA hubs are expected to streamline the research process to get studies up and running faster; collaborate with one another, and with community providers, patients, and industry to leverage their tools and resources; promote team science; and develop effective ways of improving the recruitment and retention of clinical trial participants.

Educating tomorrow’s clinician scientists is also a top priority under the CTSA. “I’m very proud of the success of our educational programs to train medical students, physicians, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty,” said Dr. Robert S. Sherwin, principal investigator of the CTSA, director of YCCI and the C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine (endocrinology). “Continuing these efforts under the CTSA is a critical part of our mission that will have a far-reaching impact going forward.”

Scholars and trainees who are interested in pursuing translational research are drawn from a range of disciplines across Yale’s Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, and from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Since 2006, there have been 105 past or current Junior Faculty Scholars who have successfully applied for more than $240 million in independent grant funding. YCCI’s educational offerings include the Investigative Medicine Program, which awards a Ph.D. in investigative medicine to physicians, and the National Clinical Scholars Program, a fellowship program for clinician leaders to improve health and health care.  

Under the renewal, Yale has expanded the number of slots in its TL-1 Multidisciplinary Pre-Doctoral Training Program in Translational Research from 10 to 20, the maximum number allowed. The KL-2 Mentored Clinical Scholars Program is also expanding from seven partially-funded scholars to nine.

NCATS aims to foster efficiency at CTSA hubs and encourages institutions to work together. The idea is to harness strengths that can be shared across the CTSA Consortium to accomplish as a group what no single organization can accomplish on its own. As a member of the consortium, Yale is eligible to apply for additional funding opportunities that are available exclusively to  CTSA hubs, including administrative supplements, collaborative grants, and exploratory/developmental grants.

During the next five years, YCCI will build upon its foundation of programs and resources to support translational research through initiatives that include pursuing new partnerships with the School of Engineering & Applied Science and the School of Management to develop and market therapeutics that address unmet clinical needs. YCCI will also build upon its relationships with community partners and providers and leverage Yale-New Haven Health’s more than 4 million electronic health records to provide Yale researchers access to a large and diverse patient population for outcomes and clinical research. CTSA support will help transform Yale into a “learning health system” that generates innovative strategies for disease prevention, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

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