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December 4, 2017   Research News

Georgia CTSA fosters excellence in research for faculty, students

Allyson Mann

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By Allyson Mann | December 4, 2017
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Citizens in every Georgia county, particularly rural and underserved populations, will benefit from UGA's participation in the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance, funded by a new five-year, $51 million grant from the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Clinical and Translational Sciences.

Through the Georgia CTSA, research findings will be turned into interventions that improve the health and wellness of Georgia citizens—from diagnostics and therapeutics to medical procedures and behavioral changes.

"The grant fosters and supports clinical and translational science across the spectrum to speed new discoveries and cures for diseases," said Bradley Phillips, UGA's CTSA principal investigator. "It is disease agnostic, so it's not just focused on one area—cancer, for example—but will translate research findings into better health outcomes for all patients."

UGA is a new member of the alliance, which includes Emory University, the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The grant extends funding received during a 10-year partnership between the other institutions. Adding UGA allows the team to expand its focus statewide, magnifying the impact of the program and providing access to communities that previously have not been reached, according to Phillips, the Millikan-Reeve Professor of Pharmacy and director of the Clinical and Translational Research Unit.

"The university brings Cooperative Extension and the Archway Partnership, unique outreach entities that provide a statewide footprint for conducting translational science and education," he said. "It also expands multidisciplinary team science by adding UGA's colleges of pharmacy, veterinary medicine and family and consumer sciences as well as expertise in ecology, health communications and educational assessments—areas not represented in the previous alliance."

The Georgia CTSA has two primary functions. One is facilitating translational science across the spectrum, from the individual level to the population level. That means turning lab discoveries into patient care—taking research and creating a therapy to treat a specific disease, for example. It also means looking at ways to improve population health—figuring out why a new drug isn't being incorporated into patient treatments, for instance, and finding ways to address the barriers.

The other function is to train the next generation of investigators by offering a robust infrastructure that provides logistical and financial support for research. Goals include creating a translational science workforce, developing and disseminating new informatics solutions, and advancing the scientific study of the process of conducting translational science. Each institution has its own navigator—dedicated to helping researchers find the resources they need—and offers support services for developing project ideas, seed grants for innovative research and structured training grants for assistant professors and pre- and post-docs.

"The extensive framework and resources provided by Georgia CTSA will increase the number of researchers doing translational science and train the next generation of investigators," said David Lee, vice president for research. "As a result, the university is poised to make a real difference in the lives of Georgians."

For more information, visit GeorgiaCTSA.org.