Health Care Policy
Minority Health Policy
Grant Will Galvanize Translational Science
HMS has been awarded a five-year Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health to launch a center that will transform patient-oriented research and create an unprecedented level of collaboration across the Harvard schools and affiliated hospitals and institutes. With this award, the University will join a consortium of Clinical and Translational Science Centers (CTSCs) based at academic health centers around the country.
Harvard is one of 14 institutions to receive a 2008 CTSC grant. The total amount given to all 14 is $533 million over five years. HMS will receive $23.5 million per year during this period. In addition, the Medical School, University, and affiliated hospitals have joined together to contribute an additional $15 million to the center.
People to People
“This is an extraordinary moment for our University, Harvard Medical School, and all of the hospitals and institutes that make up the Harvard Medical community,” said Jeffrey Flier, dean of the Faculty of Medicine. “The CTSA application required an unprecedented level of collaboration among faculty and staff across our community, as well as a commitment to a broad and compelling vision of clinical and translational research at Harvard.” Flier was instrumental in bringing together leaders from Harvard and its affiliated institutions to plan and design the center.
“It’s a pan-Harvard effort to bring people to resources—and people to people—to solve problems of human health and to lower current barriers to collaboration,” said Freedman. The center will span Harvard’s schools, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and schools of Medicine, Public Health, Business, and Engineering and Applied Sciences.
“This truly is a signal moment in the history of Harvard Medical School,” said Steven Hyman, provost of Harvard University. “This unique grant, along with the funds being contributed by the Univers-ity and its affiliated hospitals, are glue that can bond together research efforts across not only Harvard’s medical and science communities, but also across the other schools of the University. Thanks to the efforts of Dean Jeff Flier and Lee Nadler, we’ll be able to put together a bench-to-bedside translational and clinical re-search effort that will make the Harvard medical system bigger and more effective than the sum of its storied parts.”
According to Nadler, the Harvard CTSC will not only build the University-wide infrastructure necessary to support clinical and translational research but will also alter the culture by creating structured and effective methods to connect and support individual investigators and cross-disciplinary teams of investigators at Harvard. “We will deploy both new and old resources more effectively, lowering the barriers to the initiation and conduct of clinical and translational research within and across institutions,” said Nadler. “We see this as the most immediate opportunity for transformational change at Harvard.”
One of the key strategies of the new initiative is to improve communication across different parts of the University and to help clinical investigators locate tools, equipment, collaborators, and expertise throughout the Harvard system.
In addition to these online tools, the CTSC leadership is recruiting several scientists who will act as research “navigators” who specialize in a particular field. They will act as matchmakers and consultants, helping to guide investigators toward resources and collaborators to help them achieve their goals. The CTSC will also distribute about $8 million per year in pilot grants for early translational and clinical studies, focusing on junior investigators who want to work across disciplines or institutions. In addition, grant recipients will receive support in managing projects. “This will really allow us to nurture people,” Freedman said.
Without question, the NIH was the external force that inspired Harvard to undertake these efforts. The affiliated hospitals were at risk of losing their General Clinical Research Centers by 2010 if the CTSC was not funded. Nor would Harvard have been eligible for many NIH Roadmap grants without this funding. Yet it was the leadership of HMS, the University, and affiliated hospitals that embraced the vision and made it a reality. In July 2007, shortly after Drew Faust was selected as University president, she named Jeffrey Flier dean of HMS. Immediately, Flier made the CTSC his highest priority. The Harvard CTSC was funded as of May 19, 2008.
The 14 institutions receiving CTSC grants in 2008 brings the total number in the consortium to 38 in 23 states. The 13 other 2008 grantees in addition to HMS include two from Boston, Tufts University and Boston University. The others are Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Indiana University School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Scripps Research Institute, Stanford University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Colorado Denver, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and the University of Utah.