The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Translational Research Institute announced Wednesday that it will receive five years of federal funding totaling $24.2 million to accelerate research addressing the state’s biggest health challenges.
The institute helps researchers turn their ideas and findings into new medical treatments and other health interventions. Its focus is on rural Arkansas populations.
The funding will mainly support partnerships with communities to ensure that research supported by the institute aligns with the priorities and needs of Arkansans.
The new funding is called a Clinical and Translational Science Award, and it comes from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. UAMS is one of more than 50 CTSA program sites in the U.S.; the institute first received CTSA funding in 2009.
“Competition for these awards is fierce, so having a CTSA means we’ve shown UAMS to be among the country’s leading research innovators,” said UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson in a news release. “For Arkansans, this award is significant because it will translate to improved health and health care. The university also thanks Sen. [John] Boozman for his important help in achieving this result.”
The CTSA award includes a main grant and two training grants. Dr. Laura James is the principal investigator on the primary Translational Research Institute grant, which totals $20.6 million and will provide research, infrastructure and oversight for the entire CTSA program.
James said in the release that the award “allows us to work closer with our partner institutions, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Arkansas Children’s Research Institute and Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, as well as the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus, to expand the impact of research throughout the state.”
The institute is focusing on significant health issues such as opioids and pain management, diabetes and obesity, mental health, and rare diseases. The award will help UAMS researchers participate in multi-site clinical trials and take advantage of cross-CTSA research opportunities.
The two other grants that are part of the award are the Institutional Career Development Core grant totaling $2.3 million, led by Drs. Mary Aitken and Brooks Gentry; and the National Research Service Award Training Core totaling $1.3 million, led by Nancy Rusch, Ph.D.