TRI Director Laura James, M.D., speaks to researchers at the recent TRI Open House.

Accelerating Discovery Aided by New NCATS Award

The UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI) has received funding for a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) totaling $3,497,558 through Aug. 31, 2018.

The 11 months of bridge funding comes from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“We are very excited and proud to receive this award so that we can expand translational research at UAMS and improve the health of Arkansans through collaboration with our partner institutions – the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System,” said TRI Director Laura James, M.D., UAMS associate vice chancellor for clinical and translational research.

TRI will apply for five years of CTSA funding in May 2018. If the May application is fully funded, the award would likely total more than $25 million. The first CTSA grant was awarded to UAMS in 2009.

James, also principal investigator for the award, said the CTSA ensures that UAMS remains a member of the national CTSA consortium, made up of 62 academic research institutions across the country.

As a CTSA-funded site, UAMS directly helps researchers overcome long-standing obstacles to their work and provides patients opportunities to participate in cutting-edge clinical trials. In addition, UAMS will continue to harness extremely large data sets, in concert with other institutions, to develop state-of-the-art solutions to health challenges.

“TRI has been a significant contributor to the CTSA consortium in helping it meet its goals,” said Lawrence Cornett, Ph.D., UAMS vice chancellor for research. “This award ensures that UAMS clinical and translational investigators have ready access to diverse resources and approaches that TRI provides.”

In the last three years, TRI has launched or improved several of its research resources for investigators, such as:

  • ARresearch.org, a volunteer research participant registry and website, was established in collaboration with the community so that researchers have access to a pool of over 3,600 individuals interested in hearing more about research volunteer opportunities.
  • Arkansas Clinical Data Repository, a research data warehouse with de-identified patient data that researchers can use to understand patterns in data that will provide a framework to guide future studies testing new treatments or approaches.
  • UAMS Profiles, an online researcher-to-researcher networking/collaboration tool, which gives researchers a user-friendly way to locate potential research partners locally and nationally.
  • TRI Portal, a cost-saving electronic request system for researchers, which allows the researcher to select from a menu of over 30 unique services and receive customized help with a research-related task in an efficient manner.

The CTSA also supports TRI’s partnership with the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health to provide a robust Community Engagement program to increase public involvement in research at UAMS. Two key components of the program are:

  • TRI’s Community Advisory Board, represented by diverse grassroots segments of the state’s population. The board provides critical viewpoints, including cultural and logistical perspectives that researchers need to make their studies operational.
  • TRI’s Community Scientist Academy, which teaches the public how research is conducted and provides readiness training so that community members can serve as consultants to researchers and help plan the design and tools used in their research.

The new CTSA will also support a new informatics research consultation service, a new research participant recruitment program, and statistical services to ensure studies are properly designed to answer research questions. TRI will also use the grant for dissemination services so that the findings of research studies are communicated to numerous audiences, including research participants, the local community, other researchers, treating physicians and national audiences.

The NCATS/NIH award is under Award Number U54TR001629.