A Transformative Award for Translational Science and Medicine

Dear Members of the RBHS Community:

With great excitement, I can announce that a multi-university team led by Rutgers has been awarded a National Institutes of Health grant for $29 million over five years for joining the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program (CTSA). The award is the first in New Jersey and will increase our university’s access to clinical trials, help introduce new therapies, and create opportunities for increased funding. CTSA awards support a national network of more than 50 medical research institutions nationwide that collaborate to speed the translation of research discoveries into improved patient care. It enables research teams, including scientists, patient advocacy organizations and community members, to tackle system-wide scientific and operational problems in clinical and translational research that no one team can overcome.

This award is a potentially transformative one for Rutgers and New Jersey, and signals that we are in the “big leagues” in clinical and translational research. Our ultimate goal with this grant is to bring more evidence-based treatment to more patients more quickly. That means shortening the time between basic science breakthroughs and life-saving clinical treatments. In addition to our partnership with RWJBarnabas Health, which funded some of the recruitments that were pivotal to making this happen, I believe this grant will help us enhance and strengthen our commitment to the health and wellbeing of New Jersey and the world.

My congratulations go to Dr. Reynold Panettieri, Vice Chancellor for Translational Medicine and Science, and his team. Dr. Panettieri is also director of the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science (RITMS) and now will lead a team of clinicians and scientists from Rutgers, Princeton University and New Jersey Institute of Technology. The grant was awarded due to the strength of the resulting New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science (NJ ACTS), which was formed among RBHS, Princeton and NJIT, in partnership with community-based organizations, hospitals, community health centers, outpatient practices, data centers and health information exchanges. It reaches nearly seven million of the state’s nine million people. The grant will allow the NJ ACTS consortium to focus on unmet needs in clinical care and research pertaining to the diversity of disease, such as how to develop precision therapies that target diverse types of diseases and to better link large clinical databases and interventional clinical trial investigations. Additional funding from the institutions will grow the program to about $45 million.

The grant will allow Rutgers and its partners to train and cultivate the future translational science workforce; engage patients and communities in every phase of the translational process; promote the integration of special and underserved populations in translational research across the human lifespan; innovate processes to increase the quality and efficiency of translational research, particularly of multisite trials; and advance the use of cutting-edge information systems. The collaborative program develops innovative approaches to barriers in clinical research, such as the efficient recruitment of research participants and institutional review board approvals for multisite clinical trials.

Rutgers and its partners will build a new infrastructure for clinical and translational research across the entire state, which will allow physicians to access patients and to analyze big data through a variety of means that are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It will also allow for diversity in clinical trials across Rutgers’ five clinical research units, which include the Adult Clinical Research and Pediatric Clinical Research Unit at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, as well as centers based at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, and the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute.

The grant also will build a pipeline for clinical investigators by funding two positions a year for five years for junior faculty or professionals finishing their post-doctoral fellowship who can move into faculty positions with two years of guaranteed support. It will fund six positions for graduate students, who will be trained in translational and clinical research.

Again, my congratulations go out to Rey and the large team of faculty and staff who worked on this with him.

Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH
RBHS Chancellor
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs