University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, has established a new Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) to foster the translation of fundamental science to patient care and community health.
The institute is a unique umbrella organization that creates a multidisciplinary infrastructure to facilitate the rapid advancement of basic science research discoveries into novel therapies to treat and prevent serious chronic conditions and improve human health. Its research and education efforts will particularly target health disparities among underserved populations in Baltimore and beyond.
"We hope that this groundbreaking new research institute will expand collaboration across the University System of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System, transforming our research and clinical enterprise and allowing us to make a quantum leap in our ability to conduct translational science," says Reece, who is also vice president for medical affairs for the University of Maryland and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"The CTSI will harvest the richness of our University centers, institutes, programs, and hospitals to create a multidimensional, multidisciplinary research infrastructure to integrate clinical and translational science," adds Reece. "Under the institute, basic science research will develop rapidly into novel therapies that can prevent the occurrence of common chronic diseases prevalent in our region, our country, and around the world."
The new institute will be led by co-directors Alan Shuldiner, MD, and Stephen Davis, MBBS (pictured). Shuldiner is the John L. Whitehurst Professor of Medicine and associate dean for personalized and genomic medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Davis is the Dr. Theodore E. Woodward Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.
The CTSI will focus on six research areas: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infectious and inflammatory diseases, schizophrenia, and head injury.
The institute will span the many disciplines at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, from clinical research in communities throughout Maryland and around the globe to the world-class basic science laboratories throughout the School of Medicine, and also collaborate with the distinguished scientists in the other University of Maryland schools of dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, law, and social work.
"We hope to harness the incredible expertise in translational science that exists at the School of Medicine," says Davis. "Our mission is to create a strong infrastructure for translational research in laboratories and in the community, both in Baltimore and throughout the region. We hope to solve health problems across the human life span, especially addressing health care needs in underserved urban and rural populations."
Patient and community involvement and engagement will be a crucial component to the mission of the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. For example, Shuldiner's research in pharmacogenomics looks at gene variants that can predict response to medications, enabling more effective and individualized drug therapy.
The CTSI will connect the laboratories making such discoveries with the clinical researchers who can evaluate the findings in the community. Engaging with the community will provide opportunities for clinical researchers to recruit study volunteers and to communicate the importance of biomedical research to underserved populations.
"This is an opportunity to advance the University of Maryland to the forefront of clinical and translational research and into a new age of genome-informed clinical medicine," says Shuldiner. "Throughout science, there are challenges to how we move discoveries made at the laboratory bench into improved patient care. This new institute will greatly accelerate that process."