Latest News from Around the CTSA Program Consortium

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Smoking may impair body’s blood pressure autocorrect system

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Smokers may be at a higher risk for developing hypertension, and an overactive response to normal drops in blood pressure may help explain why, according to researchers.

“The human body has a buffering system that continuously monitors and maintains a healthy blood pressure,” said Dr. Lawrence Sinoway, director of Penn State Heart and Vascular Institute. “If blood pressure drops, a response called muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) is triggered to bring blood pressure back up to normal levels.”

An additional system — called the baroreflex — helps correct if blood pressure gets too high, added Sinoway, who is also director of the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute. The study used the institute's Clinical Research Center.

June 13, 2019

Researchers in a lab Craig Hutson Photography
Wright Center Students and Staff Work with Massey Researchers to Develop First Comprehensive Models of “Seeds and Soil” as a Means to Combat Breast Cancer Metastasis

Virginia Commonwealth University C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research

With support from the Virginia Commonwealth University C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research, scientists at VCU Massey Cancer Center have identified key biological pathways that regulate the spread of tumor cells to vital organs. These findings may have a significant influence on the development of new therapies that slow or prevent breast cancer metastasis.

June 13, 2019

NC TraCS Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Many Opioid Treatment Programs for Women Face Barriers to Providing Reproductive Health Services

NC TraCS Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill and RTI International have published one of the first studies examining reproductive and sexual health services available to women with an opioid use disorder in North Carolina opioid treatment programs. Hendrée Jones, PhD, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UNC School of Medicine and Executive Director of the UNC Horizons Program, and Jennifer Lorvick, DrPH, Senior Public Health Scientist at RTI, were awarded a TraCS $5K-$50K Translational Research Matched Pilot Grant to conduct a needs-assessment survey of reproductive and sexual health services available to women as part of opioid treatment programs in the state.

New research from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health found that only half of opioid treatment programs provide contraception or other reproductive and sexual health services, such as sexually transmitted infection (STI) or HIV testing, to reproductive-age women enrolled in their programs. The study is one of the first to examine the reproductive and sexual health needs of women with opioid use disorder in North Carolina.

June 12, 2019

Colleen Brown
NC TraCS Test AED Defibrillator Drones

NC TraCS Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and North Carolina State University (NC State), supported by the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute hope that heart attack victims will soon be able to use AED defibrillators delivered to them via drones. The research team is still gathering data and running trials, with the hope to one day equip first responders with these drones to quickly reach victims. The NC Tracs Institute is the integrated hub of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program at UNC-Chapel Hill and combines the research strengths, resources and opportunities of partner institution to NC State.

The study was recently featured in a local news segment, which is linked below. 

June 12, 2019

Douglas Levere
A Novel Device to Treat and Prevent Prosthetic Joint Infections

University at Buffalo CTSI

As the average age of the U.S. population rises, so does the number of joint replacements. Unfortunately, metallic implants are prone to infection. While uncommon, infections of prosthetic joints are associated with enormous morbidity and cost. University at Buffalo researchers have developed a novel device that involves applying an electric signal that creates an antibacterial environment that stops infections before they become problematic. The Biofilm Disruption Device™ includes two electrode skin patches, a machine that generates low voltage electricity and a needle that carries the electricity to the joint replacement.

The seed for the innovation started in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Ehrensberger, supported by a CTSI pilot study. In a key public-private partnership, the research team has recently partnered with Garwood Medical Devices, a Buffalo-based startup to develop the biotechnology. They will apply for approval next year from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to move the innovation along the translational pipeline. The novel approach has the potential to prevent and treat devastating infections that are forecast to increase over the next decade.

June 12, 2019

open prescription bottle University of Illinois at Chicago
U.S. Dentists Prescribe 37 Times More Opioids Than in England: Study

University of Illinois at Chicago CCTS

University of Illinois at Chicago CCTS-supported researcher, Dr. Katie Suda, was featured in U.S. News & World Report discussing her recent JAMA Network Open publication, which found that despite the nation's opioid epidemic, U.S. dentists are far more likely to prescribe addictive opioid painkillers than their British counterparts.

We have all probably had the experience of a terrible toothache," said lead author Katie Suda, an associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Illinois in Chicago. "But all dentists treat pain worldwide, so we would not expect a large difference in which pain medication is prescribed, and our results show that U.S. dentists prescribe opioids more frequently than is likely needed."

June 10, 2019

UNC Eshleman School of Pharmacy
Kim Brouwer honored at UNC-Chapel Hill as Inventor of the Year

NC TraCS Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Kim Brouwer, PharmD, PhD, was honored May 23rd as the Carolina Inventor of the Year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill). Brouwer's primary area of focus is pharmacokinetics – or what the body does to a drug – including an interest in drug transporter proteins. These interests led to her co-invention of B-CLEAR®, a technology that provides a consistent and reliable measurement of drugs’ effect on the liver and projections of their overall safety before they move to clinical trials.

Brouwer has a long history with the North Carolina Translational Clinical Sciences Institute, the integrated hub of the CTSA at UNC-Chapel Hill. Up until last year she served on our study section, and she is the recipient of two TraCS pilot grants.

  • 10K grant in Feb. 2009: “Drug-Drug Interactions in the Liver: Effect of Ritonavir, a Transport Protein Modulator, on the Hepatic Exposure of 99m Technetium-Mebrofenin in Healthy Human Volunteers”
  • $5-50K grant in Oct. 2012: “Altered Drug Disposition and Bile Acid Profiling as Novel Biomarkers to Predict Disease Severity in Patients with Chronic Inflammatory Liver Disease”

May 31, 2019

DREAM Challenge infographic S. Louis Bridges, UAB
CD2H Idea Competition for the CTSA Program: Winner Announced!

The Center for Data to Health

We are very pleased to announce the winner of the CD2H Idea Competition:

University of Alabama, Birmingham “Automated Scoring of Radiographic Damage in Rheumatoid Arthritis” (PI S. Louis Bridges).

Congratulations to the semi-finalists:

  • Predicting risk of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in premature infants using vital sign data and growth parameters, Columbia University
  • Predicting respiratory illness following preterm birth to guide therapy choices and expectations, University of Rochester
  • Analysis of brain tumor imaging for clinical trial development, Georgetown University
  • Dynamic Stratification of Venous Thromboembolism Risk in Cancer Patients, UC Davis
  • Enabling methods for accessible and reproducible quantitative MRI of the liver, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thank you to all the teams that submitted proposals! We received many outstanding applications (32 total), and hope to develop more opportunities to support CTSA Challenges in the near future.

May 29, 2019

'Smart' insulin could reduce dangerous complications of diabetes treatment

NC TraCS Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

A study supported by the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute has developed a "smart" insulin to reduce complications in people who use insulin to manage diabetes. The research was led by former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher Dr. Zhen Gu, now at UCLA, and co-authored by Dr. John Buse, co-PI and Director of NC TraCS.

In this study, the researchers engineered a type of insulin they called i-insulin by adding a glucose transporter inhibitor that plugs transporter molecules. The team tested the smart insulin on a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. They found an i-insulin injection keeps blood sugar levels within the normal range for up to 10 hours, compared to only 4 hours with traditional insulin. The treatment can also be given via skin patch and pill.

May 29, 2019

Douglas Levere
Research at University at Buffalo Is Changing Guidelines for Management of Concussions

University at Buffalo CTSI

A University at Buffalo research team conducted a randomized clinical trial that showed adolescent athletes who sustained concussions while playing a sport recovered more quickly with a supervised, aerobic exercise regimen. An accompanying editorial in JAMA Pediatrics called it “a landmark study.” Led by Drs. John Leddy and Barry Willer, the results directly contradict the conventional approach to concussion, which consists of nearly total rest.

Each participant underwent the Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test, developed by Leddy and Willer and used globally, to determine at what level their symptoms worsened. Participants were randomly assigned to a progressive aerobic exercise regimen to a heart rate of 80% of their symptom threshold or to a progressive placebo-like stretching program which did not affect heart rate. The exercise group recovered more quickly and had a lower likelihood of delayed recovery. These remarkable results are under discussion in changing the International Consensus Guidelines on sport-related concussion.

This work was supported by UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) cores and in part by a CTSI pilot study.

May 29, 2019

genome UC Davis stock photo
UC Davis launches center to advance genome-editing tools

University of California Davis

UC Davis today announced the launch of a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded research center dedicated to helping the nation develop safe and effective genome editing tools to treat patients with both common and rare diseases.

The UC Davis Nonhuman Primate Testing Center for Evaluation of Somatic Cell Genome Editing Tools will serve the nation’s research community and the public by supporting studies that advance the future treatment of human diseases with gene editing. It is part of an NIH program designed to treat as many human diseases as possible.

Gene-editing technologies hold great promise in correcting disease-causing DNA within the human body’s somatic (non-reproductive) cells.

The new UC Davis center is funded by an approximately $9 million grant from the NIH. It will provide nonhuman primate testing and support a range of funded projects for research institutions that are part of the NIH’s  Somatic Cell Genome Editing (SCGE) Program.

May 24, 2019

Photo courtesy of UIC News Bureau
Building bridges for Chicago refugees with disabilities

University of Illinois at Chicago CCTS

A new cohort of participants has begun working with the Partners of Refugees in Illinois Disability Employment program, a University of Illinois at Chicago initiative that connects refugees with disabilities to education and resources on navigating the local job market. Known as PRIDE, the program seeks to ensure refugees with disabilities understand their rights — namely Equal Employment Opportunity — and to provide connections to the governmental and community-based groups that are available to offer support.

Rooshey Hasnain, one of the UIC researchers who co-leads the programs with Mansha Mirza, Kathryn Duke and Sumithra Murthy, said that PRIDE is the only program in the nation focused on examining refugee status and disability status in the context of employment and career paths. Hasnain and Mirza have consulted with the UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science on how to best approach this community based participatory research project, ensuring optimal engagement with people with disabilities in the refugee community.

May 23, 2019

Infographic explaining COPD facts and who you should ask your doctor about the RELIANCE study UIC Institute for Healthcare Delivery Design/Naumita Pereira
UIC to lead national COPD clinical trial

University of Illinois at Chicago CCTS

The University of Illinois at Chicago will lead a $14.6 million, multi-center research project to determine which of two drugs — azithromycin, an antibiotic, or roflumilast, an anti-inflammatory medication — is the most effective at treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is also known as COPD. The clinical trial, known as the RELIANCE study, is designed by researchers with the help of patients, caregivers, professional societies and the COPD Foundation.

The trial, led by Dr. Jerry Krishnan, associate vice chancellor for population health sciences and professor of medicine and public health at UIC, will follow more than 3,000 patients with COPD for up to three years. Patients will be enrolled at their doctor’s office at more than 30 centers across the U.S. “This is the first study to test these medications as they are used in routine health care settings,” said Krishnan.

The Center for Clinical and Translational Science's Biomedical Informatics Core provides technical support for RELIANCE, ensuring the connections between UIC’s call center software and partner data systems study and regulatory specifications.

May 23, 2019

Cigarette and Electronic cigarette
The Cigarette and Vape Industry Won’t Support this Research, but CTSI Will

UC San Francisco CTSI

UCSF's CTSI Supports a Broad Range of Smoking Research - From the Pharmacology of Nicotine, Informing Tobacco Policy and Rise in Electronic Cigarettes

Tobacco and nicotine research have deep roots at UC San Francisco dating decades back to when the tobacco industry denied the risks of smoking, its causal effects of lung cancer, heart disease and other health problems. A rising number of faculty are dedicated to tobacco related research – from documenting and understanding advertising strategies, manufacturing, marketing, scientific research and political activities of the tobacco industry, the pharmacology of nicotine, tobacco cigarettes and related products, to its repercussions on human health and the recommended policy measures to reduce the harms from smoking.

CTSI has supported a wide range of this research and continues to as the smoking landscape evolves with the rise of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products. “CTSI’s Clinical Research Services was absolutely essential in our research,” said Neal Benowitz, MD, professor emeritus of medicine and former chief of the division of clinical pharmacology.

May 22, 2019

Beth Poster stands talking with Axel Gumble from Mayo Clinic Public Affairs Mayo Clinic
A day in the life of a clinical trials nurse

Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science

Every day is different for Beth Postier, a nurse in Mayo's Clinical Research and Trials Unit at Mayo Clinic.

One day, she may be working with cancer patients volunteering in a trial at the inpatient Clinical Research Trial Unit at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus. The next day, she may be across campus preparing for an upcoming pediatric asthma drug trial at the outpatient Clinical Research and Trial Unit in the Charlton Building. 

Postier says she loves the variety and connecting with patients.

May 22, 2019

Twitter logoFollow CLIC
Twitter logoFollow NCATS