UF gets nearly $26 million to speed scientific discoveries to patient care

The University of Florida will receive nearly $26 million over five years to speed the transformation of scientific discoveries into medical advances for patients.

In winning the competitive National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Award, UF joins a prestigious national consortium of medical research institutions, whose membership will be capped at 60 by 2012. UF is the only university in Florida to get the award, which will be geared toward accelerating scientific discovery, enhancing medical care, producing highly skilled scientists and physicians and fostering partnerships with industry, university officials said today (July 14).

The grant will support multidisciplinary research in a wide range of fields such as biomedical informatics, gene therapy, aging, nanotechnology and infectious diseases.

Awardees are poised to become much more competitive than other institutions by offering stronger research programs in addition to basic medical training, securing more NIH funding and attracting and retaining skilled faculty. And the community benefits — every $5 million in annual research funding leads to about 100 new jobs and $20 million in incremental business activity, according to estimates from the nonprofit Families USA organization.

“Lots of things can happen with this grant that might not have happened — or happened as well — without it,” said Peter Stacpoole, M.D., Ph.D., director of UF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the grant’s principal investigator.

The CTSI, a partnership of several entities both within the university and in the wider community, will coordinate the grant, administered through the NIH’s National Center for Research Resources. The CTSI also is supported by $23 million from the UF Office of Research and $70 million in commitments from the College of Medicine.

Dr. Peter Stacpoole visits with Dr. Jennifer Miller and her young patient, who was involved in a clinical study at UF.  Photo by Sarah Kiewel

Dr. Peter Stacpoole visits with Dr. Jennifer Miller and her young patient, who was involved in a clinical study at UF. Photo by Sarah Kiewel

“This award is an endorsement of UF’s leading-edge research efforts and its contributions to health-related fields,” said Win Phillips, UF’s vice president for research. “The strong research efforts of UF faculty will provide the foundation for enhanced translational and bench-to-bedside research leading to contributions to health care that is the focus of this highly competitive program.”

The impact of the resulting discoveries will extend beyond academia to industry, government and the nation. In addition, discoveries that are developed commercially can generate royalty streams for the university.

“By attracting external funding, whether from federal agencies such as NIH or CDC, or from foundations or industry, new dollars come into Florida from outside the state — this leads to new jobs and a ripple effect in the local economy,” said David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF’s senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System. Guzick was principal investigator on the University of Rochester’s CTSA grant, presented in the first set of awards in 2006.

By incorporating 12 of the university’s colleges, the largest health-care system in the Southeast and the nation’s largest two-division Veterans Affairs health system, the CTSI seeks to transform how scientific research is carried out, by emphasizing broad collaborations.

The partnership comprises UF’s Gainesville and Jacksonville campuses, including the colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Health Professions, Veterinary Medicine, Fine Arts, Journalism and Communications, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Health and Human Performance and Agriculture and Life Sciences; as well as the Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences with its 67-county network of extension programs, which will engage citizens in educational activities and participatory research. Shands HealthCare and the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System also help to extend the institute’s resources and services across the state.

“We’ll use those as ways to engage the community and make the CTSI a statewide resource,” Stacpoole said. “It’s a truly fundamental – from the roots up – transformation of how we do research and training.”