Although a director’s message is typically forward looking, I wish to start by acknowledging the contributions of Lars Berglund, M.D., Ph.D., founding Principal Investigator and Director of the UC Davis CTSC. A dozen years ago he and a few of our other School of Medicine leaders had the vision (some would say audacity) to submit a full proposal for a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), rather than a planning grant that many felt was more appropriate for UC Davis. The result was a position in the inaugural class of 12 CTSA-funded centers. Over the subsequent years, Lars – in his dual roles as Senior Associate Dean for Research and CTSC Director – transformed clinical and translational research at UC Davis and guided us into the ranks of elite academic research medical centers. As I become more enmeshed in the CTSA world, my high regard for Dr. Berglund has grown exponentially, as well as my appreciation for how his reputation and accomplishments reflect positively on UC Davis.
I am fortunate to have been part of the CTSC from inception, and had Lars as both role model and mentor. To this day, many of our founding faculty and staff remain. Over my first few months, I have had the privilege to recruit several new leaders who emerged through their interaction with CTSC programs, including Daniel Nishijima, Eric Henricson, and Kathy Angkustsiri. With new talent comes renewed energy, and I am confident our team will continue to thrive as an exemplary CTSA hub.
Looking forward, the CTSC will spread its reach both inward and outward. By inward, I mean within the greater UC Davis and Sacramento communities. We are a top tier research institution. Among the many assets within our grasp, the CTSC will fortify our already strong ties to the Schools of Veterinary Medicine and Nursing, as well as the College of Engineering. I also hope to forge new collaborations with other centers such as the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety and the Environmental Health Sciences Center.
Facing outward, we look forward to developing new collaborations with local community-based organizations and enhancing the partnership with our sister UCs through UC BRAID. Ongoing participation in regional and national efforts through the CTSA consortium are essential, especially as we strive to facilitate completion of high-priority, multi-site clinical trials.
Our core mission is training the workforce and improving the processes that accelerate high-quality research for a tangible impact on human health. One avenue to accomplishing these missions is robust, expansive, and innovative support for the digital health initiative outlined in our most recent grant application. This issue of CTSC Connections highlights the progress we have made towards this objective.
As with all my leadership roles, I maintain an open door and “please comment” policy. The CTSC is a resource for the entire UC Davis community. I look forward to working with many of you.