The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) announced seven new scholars will join its faculty career development programs. The programs are designed to support junior investigators as they build independent research careers.

Congratulations to the new awardees!

New Investigator Pre-K Career Development Award
Michael Usher, MD, PhD
Department of Medicine
Project title: Health Outcomes of Inter-hospital Transfers: Improving Health Care Delivery at the Local and National Level
Mentoring Team: Anne Joseph, Weihua Guan

Beshay Zordoky
, PhD
Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology
Project title: Preclinical Model of Juvenile Doxorubicin-induced Cardiotoxicity
Mentoring Team: Pamala Jacobson, Haitao Chu

KL2 Scholars Career Development Award
Eric Lock, PhD
Department of Biostatistics
Project title: Biomarkers from Multi-source, Multi-way Data
Mentoring Team: Peter Bitterman, Michael Georgieff, Wei Pan

Stephanie Misono, MD, MPH
Department of Otolaryngology
Project title: Dysphonia, Distress, and Control: Technology-based Assessment and Intervention
Mentoring Team: Kelvin Lim, Patricia Frazier, Kyle Rudser

William Schmalstieg, MD
Department of Neurology
Project title: Mechanisms of CD8+ T Cell-mediated Axon Injury
Mentoring Team: Stephen Jameson, Charles Howe, James Hodges

Chetan Shenoy, MD
Department of Medicine
Project title: Cardiac Fibrosis for Risk Prediction in Cancer Therapy Cardiotoxicity
Mentoring Team: Russell Luepker, Daniel Duprez, Sue Duval

K to R01 Transition to Independence Award
Bryan Williams, MD, PhD
Department of Medicine
Project title: The Role of the Arginine Decarboxylase Pathway in CF Lung Disease
Mentoring Team: David Ingbar, John Hughes

Learn more about CTSI's career development opportunities.

Gretchen Sieger and Kathleen McKay, PhD, recently joined CTSI's Informatics Consulting Service (ICS), which helps investigators efficiently and effectively leverage data and information for their health research.

Both will support requests for data from the University of Minnesota's clinical data repository.

Gretchen Sieger came to CTSI from the University's Transplant Information Services, where she worked assisting researchers with data retrieval and analysis for the last 14 years. She has significant experience in working with data from Fairview's electronic health records.

Kathleen McKay holds a PhD in Epidemiology from Yale University and has worked for the last 18 years in research services at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, Conn. She also held a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where she taught research design.

Adding these two professionals significantly increases ICS's capacity and skill set to assist researchers in finding and understanding the data available in the clinical data repository and other available resources to help address their research questions.

Constantin_Aliferis.jpgConstantin Aliferis, MD, MS, PhD, FACMI, will provide leadership for CTSI's Biomedical Informatics core and the Institute for Health Informatics, assuming responsibilities from Dean Connie Delaney, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, who served in these roles on an interim basis.

For the last seven years, Dr. Aliferis served as the founding director of the Center for Health Informatics and Bioinformatics at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC). At NYU, he also led the CTSI Informatics program and the Informatics Shared Resource of the NYU Cancer Institute.

His work over the years spanned cancer genomics, proteomics, microbiomics and contributed to discoveries in treatment and prevention of diverse diseases like pneumonia, lung cancer, melanoma, psoriasis, osteoarthritis, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.

Over the last 25 years, Dr. Aliferis has invented many algorithmic methods for causal and predictive discoveries - for determining how and why we develop health problems, and predicting when and to whom they will occur in the future.

His algorithms have the capacity for analyzing millions of variables at once to pinpoint genetic biomarkers, identify drug targets, and construct molecular profiles crucial for the development of personalized medicine.

At the University of Minnesota, Dr. Aliferis will work to build a leading health informatics and translational biomedical informatics program. His work will play a critical role in driving the use of health data as a tool for scientific research and, ultimately, to deliver higher quality, more efficient care to patients.

"It's a truly transformative time for informatics," Dr. Aliferis said. "With big data and informatics tools, we have the opportunity to affect change and greatly improve the health care system."

Three Minnesotans -- including two with CTSI connections -- were among the 47 new projects funded through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute's (PCORI) Pipeline to Proposal Awards program.

The program awards funding to build partnerships among patients, other healthcare stakeholders, and researchers who share interest in a particular health issue and a desire to participate in patient-centered outcomes research.

CTSI grant recipient Kathleen Culhane-Pera, MD, MA, of West Side Community Health Services, received nearly $15,000 to focus on identifying effective treatments for Hmongs suffering from gout and gout-related co-morbidities. In 2014, Dr. Culhane-Pera received a CTSI Community Collaborative Grant to support research on a similar topic, which she conducted in collaboration with Robert Straka, Pharm.D., of the University of Minnesota's College of Pharmacy.

Plus, CTSI Associate Director Milton Eder, PhD, received nearly $15,000 to engage community members and stakeholders to address challenges surrounding aging-in-place. Dr. Eder directs CTSI's Populations and Community Engagement function, which provides an infrastructure so community and University researchers can work together to address health issues in ways that are truly relevant to the community.

PCORI awarded $10,700-15,000 to each Tier 1 project, totaling at nearly $700,000. Projects focus on 35 health issues, including liver cirrhosis, osteoarthritis, sickle cell disease, spinal cord injuries, and chronic pain. View a list of funded projects.

Mickey_Eder.jpgMilton "Mickey" Eder, PhD, a Family Medicine and Community Health research faculty member, has been named the CTSI Associate Director for Populations and Community Engagement (PCE).

He succeeds Bernard Harlow, PhD, who will be departing for the Boston University School of Public Health this summer.

Dr. Eder joined the University of Minnesota's Family Medicine and Community Health research faculty in 2014 to conduct translational and primary care practice-based research.

Previously, he served as Director of Research and Evaluation at Access Community Health Network in Chicago for 10 years. While working in this network of Federally Qualified Health Centers, he organized research to involve community perspectives, improve health literacy and patient engagement, and evaluate public health programs - with the ultimate goal of improving the health of individuals and communities.

His work at Access Community Health Network included multi-site research collaborations, with funding from the NIH, AHRQ, and the CDC, to develop policies and practices to address health disparities and patient safety.

Dr. Eder earned his PhD from the Committee on History of Culture, an interdisciplinary program at the University of Chicago.

Previously a member of the CTSA Community Engagement Key Function Committee and co-chair of the Outcomes of Community Engagement workgroup, Dr. Eder was selected as an academic co-chair of the Partnership for the Advancement of Community Engaged Research (PACER), a special interest group supported by the Association for Clinical and Translational Science.

Dr. Eder has been instrumental in furthering national CTSA community-engagement efforts and served as a member of the External Advisory Board (EAB) for CTSI. He serves on EABs for three CTSA-funded institutions and as an associate editor for "Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action."

As director of CTSI's Populations and Community Engagement function, Dr. Eder will lead efforts to provide an infrastructure that supports community-engaged research, with the goal of building healthier communities and adding value to the lives of Minnesotans.