Latest News from Around the CTSA Program Consortium

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute TL1 program welcomes seven scholars

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Penn State graduate students with varied research interests including sudden infant death syndrome, aging, childhood obesity, health disparities and leukemia have started a year of training in clinical and translational sciences. The TL1 Predoctoral Training Program is a year-long opportunity offered by Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute to teach the next generation of scientists the skills to move research out of the laboratory to benefit patients in the health care system.

The National Institutes of Health-funded TL1 program supports predoctoral graduate and medical students seeking advanced full-time training in clinical and translational research. TL1 scholars expand their major course of study by completing a dual-title doctorate in clinical and translational sciences, a graduate certificate in translational science, or a master’s degree in public health sciences. TL1 scholars are selected each year through a competitive application process.

October 19, 2018

Check out the newly launched Research Registry Toolkit

UNC-Chapel Hill NC TraCS

Do you regularly work with research registries? Do you have questions about data quality, REDCap, regulatory issues, and engagement? Look no further than the newly launched website, the Research Registry Toolkit.

The site is designed to support teams creating and managing research registries at the University of North Carolina, other CTSAs and beyond. The Toolkit includes registry-relevant content about recruitment and engagement, data, and regulatory topics, and focuses solely on registries used for research purposes.

The Research Registry Toolkit was created by the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, the integrated hub of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

October 16, 2018

New DIAMOND Portal Allows CTSA Members to Access, Share Training and Assessment Materials

Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR)

Translation of novel research interventions into clinical applications for improved human health requires a well-prepared, competent workforce. There is a critical need to provide high quality, accessible, competency-based training for research personnel conducting clinical trials.

To address the need for consistent training, assessment, and measures of competency, the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR) has collaborated with the Ohio State University, Rochester University, and Tufts University to launch the DIAMOND portal.

The DIAMOND portal is a pioneering digital collection that serves as a sustainable, federated database for members of clinical and translational research study teams to share and access training and assessment resources. It was developed as part of the Clinical & Translational Awards (CTSA) Development, Implementation, and AssessMent Of Novel Training in Domain-based competencies (DIAMOND) initiative.

October 16, 2018

Newly funded project to focus on health in rural Pennsylvania communities

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Many rural Pennsylvania communities are seeing unique challenges related to the health of residents. Deaths related to heart and liver diseases, diabetes, accidental opioid overdose and suicide are rising in American small towns. Recognizing these unique problems, Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute is leveraging the University’s resources to better partner with the communities around its campuses. The institute has been awarded a $416,000 grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences for a pilot program to better understand the issues facing rural communities and address a decline in American life expectancy.

“At a national level, this is the first time life expectancy for Americans is not rising,”said Dr.Lawrence Sinoway, principal investigator of the institute. “In particular, there is a disturbing increase in death rates for 45- to 64-year-olds. Research suggests that this trend differs from that of other developed countries where life expectancy continues to rise. It appears that the leading edge of this problem is in small towns.”

October 15, 2018

UK CCTS Hosts 2018 Appalachian Translational Research Network Summit

University of Kentucky CCTS

The University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) hosted the annual Appalachian Translational Research Network (ATRN) Summit on Sept. 21 and 22 to discuss addressing health disparities through collaborative research. The ATRN consists of nine academic medical institutions that collaborate to catalyze research and training efforts for improved health in the region. The UK CCTS is a founding member, with Penn State University, the Ohio State University, Ohio University, University of Cincinnati, West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Marshall University, East Tennessee State University, and Wake Forest University as current partners. Nearly 150 people from nine institutions attended the two-day Summit, with 46 poster presentations. Joyce E. Balls-Berry, PhD, MPE, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic, delivered a keynote talk on “Keys to Building Successful Community-Engaged Research Partnerships”. Breakout sessions and podium presentations explored a range of topics, including opioids, cancer, environmental risks, diabetes, and fostering collaboration.

October 02, 2018

Researchers find thousands of effective four- and five-drug combinations of antibiotic drugs


Working with eight antibiotics, the researchers analyzed how every possible four- and five-drug combination, including many with varying dosages — a total of 18,278 combinations in all — worked against E. coli. They expected that some of the combinations would be very effective at killing the bacteria, but they were startled by how many potent combinations they discovered.

For every combination they tested, the researchers first predicted how effective they thought it would be in stopping the growth of E. coli. Among the four-drug combinations, there were 1,676 groupings that performed better than they expected. Among the five-drug combinations, 6,443 groupings were more effective than expected.

“There is a tradition of using just one drug, maybe two,” said CTSI KL2 Scholar Pamela Yeh,  one of the study’s senior authors and a UCLA assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “We’re offering an alternative that looks very promising. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to just single drugs or two-drug combinations in our medical toolbox. We expect several of these combinations, or more, will work much better than existing antibiotics.”

October 02, 2018

A clip art image of bridge
Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute awards six pilot grants

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute is helping generate innovative health research ideas and promoting collaboration through the awarding of pilot grants in its Bridges to Translation IV program. This program seeks to link researchers not traditionally in health research with those who can help mold a new idea. Six diverse projects have been funded, giving researchers an opportunity to further explore new ideas and gather more information in preparation for larger grant opportunities from outside organizations.

After a competitive process, Bridges to Translation IV awarded principal investigators Kerstin Betterman, Scott Bunce, Andrea Hobkirk, Helen Kamens, Scherezade Mama and Muzi Na.

October 02, 2018

ICU patients often will receive more than one antibiotic, in an attempt to curb infection while waiting on cultures for a definitive cause. Mayo Clinic
Research helps play it safe in the ICU

Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science

Life threatening infections, or sepsis, are one of the most common reasons people end up in the intensive care unit or stay longer in the hospital than originally expected. To combat these infections, physicians can choose from several antibiotics, and often will use a combination of drugs until they are certain of what is causing the infection. However, as with every drug, there are risks. Antibiotics are no exception to this rule, making the choice a difficult one. On one hand, physicians need to treat the serious infection, but on the other hand, risks such as life-threatening kidney damage can occur with some of these drugs.

Recently, Mayo Clinic pharmacy resident Diana Schreier, Pharm.D., R.Ph.; led a research study to determine the safety of one particular combination of antibiotics for short-term use in the ICU. Published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the team’s research shows that short-term use of the combination of piperacillin/tazobactam and vancomycin (PTZ/VAN) is no more toxic to the kidneys than other combinations.

Funding was provided, in part, by the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science (NIH grant UL1TR002377).

September 27, 2018

New York Hall of Science
Weill Cornell CTSC MS Candidate Offered Advice to Young Women Pursuing STEM Careers in NYSCI Interview

Weill Cornell Medicine

Maria Frias, PhD, a Weill Cornell CTSC Master’s Degree Candidate, recently served as a panelist at the New York Hall of Science’s STEM Night: Women in STEM event. Women in STEM offers insight about the wide range of careers that women have conquered in STEM fields and is geared towards middle school, high school and college students who are curious about careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Frias is currently a Fellow with the Hunter College Center for Translational and Basic Research and her MS research focuses on novel insights for the development of anti-KRAS targeted therapies that inhibit several major effector pathways in pancreatic cancer. Her mentors are David Foster, PhD, Professor, Biological Sciences, Hunter College, and Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, MD, PhD, Associate Director for Translational Research, Pathology, MSKCC.

The Master's Degree in Clinical Translational Investigation combines rigorous academics and strategic, practical skills, challenging students to apply scientific theory, concepts, methods, and innovative, team-oriented management to help solve complex biomedical and health issues.

September 26, 2018

Plasma given to trauma victims in flight, rather than at the hospital, saved lives in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and carried out in part at MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University. MetroHealth Medical Center
PAMPer trial shows promising results during Life Flight trauma emergencies

Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland

Saving lives. Creating a better chance for survival. This is what CTSC KL2 Scholar alum, Dr. Jeffrey Claridge is doing. He, along with other researchers at Cleveland's MetroHealth Medical Center ran a trial, called the Prehospital Air Medical Plasma trial or “PAMPer.” The idea behind PAMPer was to administer plasma to patients while they were being transported by helicopter rather than waiting until arrival at the hospital.

This change increased the likelihood of survival for a patient- the risk of death at 30 days after the injury was 23% for the patient’s receiving plasma during their flight as opposed to 33% for those who received treatment at the hospital. The study results were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

September 26, 2018

Katrina Croghan, Mayo Clinic Clinical Research Coordinator Mayo Clinic
Meet Katrina Croghan, Clinical Research Coordinator

Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science

Katrina Croghan is clinical research coordinator for Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, assigned to the division of Hematology in Rochester, Minnesota.

She began her career in ecology and animal science, but while en route to a related Ph.D., ended up as a supplemental research coordinator because of her knowledge of writing protocols and conducting research. She says:

"For a short time, I worked as a float research coordinator. I would go to departments that needed research coordinators. Along the way, I learned many different aspects of being a coordinator."

When she had the opportunity to work with Morie Gertz, M.D., on an amyloidosis study in 2015, she found she thoroughly enjoyed working with patients, and ended up staying in hematology research.

September 26, 2018

2017 Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Clinical and Translational Science Ph.D. program graduates. Mayo Clinic
CTSA program sets tomorrows clinical researchers up for success

Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science

Graduates of Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences’ Ph.D. program in Clinical and Translational Science learn the skills to engage in research across the translational research spectrum, from laboratory-based, to patient-based, to population-based. The goal is to give the next generation of clinical researchers the skills they need to improve patient care, accelerate discovery and innovation, and advance the practice of medicine.

Mayo Clinic Public Affairs recently sat down with two alumni of the Clinical and Translational Science program—Amber Miller, Ph.D., and Michael Gionfriddo, Pharm.D., Ph.D.  Both program graduates have gone on to successful careers in translational research. We asked them to share their reasons for pursuing the clinical and translational science Ph.D. track, any unexpected things they learned during their studies, and how the program set them up for success.

September 26, 2018

Penn State CTSI welcomes new KL2 scholar

Penn State CTSI

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute has welcomed a new scholar into its program that invests in early-career faculty. Dr. Steven Hicks, assistant professor of pediatrics, was named into the institute’s KL2 Training Program, which gives researchers establishing themselves in their fields dedicated time to help their findings benefit human health more quickly while becoming successful, independent translational scientists.

“As a KL2 scholar I’ll have the opportunity to expand my expertise in biostatistics and community engagement through protected career development time,” Hicks said. “My research project will engage stakeholders from the community, academia and industry to advance autism research here at Penn State.”

Hicks’ research looks to use saliva samples from hundreds of children with autism spectrum disorder to find RNA differences that could be used to diagnose the disorder.

Hicks joins seven other scholars who started in January after a competitive application process.

September 19, 2018

Kathleen Ferraro/Chicago ITM
ITM Researcher Building First Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Chicago Institute for Translational Medicine

What could be the first medical treatment for cocaine addiction is being created by Institute for Translational Medicine (ITM) researchers Ming Xu, PhD, and Xiaoyang Wu, PhD. Their research edits a patch of normal skin using an engineering technology that puts an anti-cocaine gene into skin stem cells. This system allows Xu and Wu to take a small section of skin, add the anti-cocaine gene to the skin’s cells, and then put it back onto the patient through a process called grafting, a routine procedure where a piece of skin is added onto the body.

The genetically-modified cells produce anti-cocaine proteins that enter the bloodstream and break down cocaine in a way that makes it unrewarding and nontoxic to the brain and body. And because the tool uses a routine skin grafting procedure, the process is safe, minimally invasive, and affordable.

The treatment could also scale to address other addictions, such as opioids, alcohol and cigarettes. With more than 15 million Americans suffering from alcoholism, and cigarette smoking accounting for one in every five deaths in the U.S., Xu and Wu’s treatment has the potential to help millions of patients.

September 18, 2018

Two women sit at a desk and talk. Penn State
Sekhar begins Community-Engaged Research Fellowship

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute

There’s a difference between simply including in a research study the people a scientist wants to help and partnering with those people in the research process. That’s a lesson Dr. Deepa Sekhar learned while studying ways to better detect high-frequency noise-induced hearing loss in teenagers. She will continue to learn how to more effectively accomplish the latter through the year-long, Community-Engaged Research Core Faculty Fellowship of Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

The Community-Engaged Research Core Faculty Fellowship Program matches a researcher with a mentor and protects work time for research – important for a busy clinician helping patients. Community-engaged research meets the needs of the community by involving those who have an interest in improving health. This can include a community and its members, patients, clinicians, researchers, purchasers, payers, industry, hospitals and health systems, training institutions and policy makers. Applications are now being accepted for next year’s program.

September 11, 2018

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