Message from the Director
When UC Davis was honored with a Clinical and Translational Science award in late 2006, we believed it marked an important recognition of the university’s rich collaborative culture. Less than two years later, our Clinical and Translational Science Center is flourishing, and the future promises to expand that strong tradition of collaboration in exciting new directions.
The Center is part of a national consortium that is transforming how scientific research is both conducted and converted into medical treatments for patients. Launched with a $24.8-million grant from the National Institutes of Health, the center is a founding member of the CTSA consortium. Together, these hubs of innovation aim to create a new framework for scientists and the communities they serve, one that transcends old boundaries and marshals our collective brainpower toward a common goal. That goal, simply stated, is to ensure that the public more quickly benefits from discoveries in the laboratory.
To get there, we must anchor our effort in teamwork, which is often elusive in a university setting with many far-flung parts. Toward that end, the center’s leaders have placed a strong emphasis initially on outreach, both across the UCD campus and to other institutional and community partners throughout the Central Valley. Our goal has been two-fold – to spread awareness of our mission and forge and strengthen connections.
Already, we have expanded our links with other, prominent NIH-funded centers at UC Davis, including the Cancer Center, the Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the California National Primate Research Center. Unique collaboration continues with the Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System as well, through our nine-bed, highly specialized Clinical Research Center. On the pediatric front, we are teaming with Shriners Hospital to develop a partnership on spinal cord injuries, burns and orthopedics, and with the M.I.N.D. Institute to enhance the study of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders.
In another effort to foster connectivity among scientists, we have established an Investigator Support Team. The team’s top priority is to promote investigator-initiated, collaborative research, but it also exists to help scientists manage the myriad regulatory challenges they face. Still more support and scientist interaction are fostered through our web site, which has been enriched with dynamic features such as searchable databases for clinical trials, an abundance of useful links and an education master planning calendar.
In establishing the consortium, the NIH emphasized that one cornerstone of our centers’ work is to train the next generation of scientists to meet tomorrow’s complex health care questions. We have taken that mission to heart, and are continually looking for new ways to nurture junior researchers, through new pre- and post-doctoral programs and other avenues. In our first year, we launched K12 and T32 programs, and developed a research training curriculum for medical and graduate students. We are also enthusiastic about a new project that pairs graduate students in biostatistics or epidemiology with residents and fellows, with additional mentoring of the team provided by faculty.
As one of the 12 inaugural institutions selected to receive a Clinical and Translational Science Award, we are proud to take part in this venture and believe a robust foundation for future innovation has been laid. Please visit our site regularly for news about our progress and announcements of upcoming events.
-Lars Berglund, M.D., Ph.D.