More than $100 million in federal money – the equivalent of the annual budget for a small city – is headed to the Triangle to help university researchers turn basic scientific discoveries into advances in patient care.
Two Clinical and Translational Science Awards from the National Institutes of Health were awarded to Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill, which will team up with RTI International and N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro.
The largest grant, worth $54.6 million over five years, is a new award given to a partnership among UNC-CH, RTI and N.C. A&T.
The other, $47 million over five years, is a renewal of a grant to the Duke Translational Medicine Institute.
Both grants are aimed at transforming clinical research into things that directly help patients.
“I think the best way to describe it is we need to take ideas and turn them into useful therapies and diagnostic tests, and this grant will help the entire institution to be able to do that,” said Dr. Robert M. Califf, director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute and one of the principal investigators for the program supported by the grant. “I will also say it’s nice that Duke and UNC are in the same boat here, and we’ve got five years to work together instead of competing like we do in sports.”
Launched in 2006, the NIH-led grant program aims to speed up science from the lab to the bedside. The grants support a consortium of 60 academic medical institutions to foster team research.
The grant for UNC-CH will fund the N.C. Translational and Clinical Sciences, a campus center that reaches out to counties across the state. Previous projects at the center include a study on a gene variant in breast cancer in which 500 patients received personalized care. That work led to patients receiving adjusted chemotherapy doses based on their own results.
Now, N.C. A&T and RTI will join the UNC-CH center on the new grant.
Duke was one of the original 12 CTSA grant recipients in 2006. The renewal funds will cover biostatistical and regulatory expertise, technical support, startup capital and other needs in research infrastructure.