CTSI Blog

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has awarded funds to support 15 research projects that will be conducted by U of M investigators and their collaborators. Funding from three CTSI grant programs will support a wide range of projects, from early-stage, translational research to clinical research to community-engaged research. Congratulations to our newest awardees!

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Translational Grant Program
This funding program helps drive the highest quality early stage translational research through the complex process of translating basic science discoveries into patient benefit. The overarching goal is to positively impact human health in Minnesota and the nation. Following are the program's 2014 awardees:

Conrado Aparicio, PhD, School of Dentistry
Project Title: GL13K Antimicrobial Peptide Coatings with Strong Resistance to Degradation and Sustained Activity for Preventing Dental Peri-implant Infection

Shai Ashkenazi, PhD, College of Science & Engineering
Project Title: Depth-resolved Tissue Oxygen Needle Sensor

Arthur Erdman, PhD, College of Science & Engineering
Project Title: Acoustic Modulation of the Phrenic Nerve for Treatment of Ventilator Induced Diaphragmatic Dysfunction

Benjamin Hackel, PhD, College of Science & Engineering
Project Title: Molecular PET Imaging of MET with Small Protein Ligands

Alexander Khoruts, MD, Medical School
Project Title: Development of Immunoregulatory Microbiota to Suppress Gut Inflammation

Jayanth Panyam, PhD, College of Pharmacy
Project Title: A Novel Marker for Isolation and Characterization of Circulating Tumor Cells from Patients with Metastatic Cancer

Srinand Sreevatsan, BVSc, MVSc, MPH, PhD, College of Veterinary Medicine
Project Title: Point-of-care Detection and Monitoring System for Tuberculosis

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Research Services Pilot Funding Program
This funding program supports focused clinical research pilot projects and is designed to poise U of M researchers for future success. Funded investigators can access a wide range of services for planning, implementing, conducting, and analyzing studies, from consultations and support to clinical facilities, staff, and procedures. The program's newest awardees are:

Peter Karachunski, MD, Medical School
Project Title: New Tools Used to Study Effects of Growth Hormone Therapy on Bone Health and Muscle Function in Boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Suma Konety, MD, Medical School
Project Title: Chemotherapy Induced Cardiomyopathy and Associated Genetic Variants

Erin Osterholm, MD, Medical School
Project Title: The Impact of Breast Milk-Acquired Cytomegalovirus Infections on Clinical Outcomes in Premature Infants

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Community Collaborative Grants Program
This funding program supports community-university pilot research projects that address important health issues identified by Minnesota communities. Awards are designed to stimulate high-impact research, while building and sustaining long-term partnerships between U of M researchers and community representatives. The program has awarded funding to the following community-University research teams:

Mary Williams, RN, Everyday Miracles
Katy Kozhimannil, PhD, PMA, School of Public Health
Project Title: Improving Maternal and Child Health by Increasing Doula Support for Diverse Minnesota Women

Teri Verner, RN, DNP, Hennepin County Medical Center
Pamela Jo Johnson, PhD, Academic Health Center
Project Title: Impact of Complementary and Integrative Healthcare on Health and Wellbeing for Adults with Chronic Disease

Angela Lewis-Dmello, MSW, Domestic Abuse Project, Inc.
Lynette Renner, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work
Project Title: Exploring Mental and Behavioral Health Outcomes Among Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

Joan Cleary, MM, Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance
Elizabeth Rogers, MD, MAS, Medical School
Project Title: The Health Care Home in Supporting Chronic Disease Management: Understanding Team Member Roles and the Integration of Community Health Workers

Kathleen Culhane-Pera, MD, MA, West Side Community Health Services
Robert Straka, PharmD, College of Pharmacy
Project Title: Genomic Guided Assessment of Drug Therapy Effectiveness in Managing Hmong Adults with Hyperuricemia and Gout


CRC Orientation screen shot-Recruitment course.pngCoordinators who support clinical research teams at the U of M and Fairview have new resources to help them be more successful, thanks to expansions to the Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC) Orientation program.

The online training program now offers a new course about recruiting research participants (shown above), to help coordinators more effectively attract volunteers for clinical trials, and ensure they have a positive experience.

"Recruiting patients is vital to a trial's success, and sites invest a significant amount of time and resources on recruitment activities. I'm very exited about the development of the CRC Orientation program's latest course, which is designed to provide CRCs with the skills, training, and real-world examples that can help them more effectively recruit and retain research participants," says Denise Windenburg, Program Director of the U of M's Cardiovascular research team. Windenburg collaborates on the training program with other content experts and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Other new program features include an online forum that allows the U of M and Fairview CRC community to discover, share, and discuss resources, as well as digital badges that enable CRCs to showcase training progress, such as on their LinkedIn profile.

Recruitment is one of many courses included in the module, which addresses a wide range of topics, from good clinical practice and research ethics to policies and regulatory considerations. Courses can be taken anytime, anywhere, and are free to CRCs at the U of M.

"We originally created the CRC Orientation program to help drive high-quality research, while also supporting the career development of the coordinators who are critical to a clinical study's success," says Michelle Lamere, assistant director for CTSI's Education, Training, and Research Career Development function (CTSI-Ed). "We continuously add new features to keep delivering on this promise, and respond to the evolving needs of the CRC community."

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute developed and manages this program, while CRC experts and research managers serve as content experts, including for the new recruitment-focused course.

Visit the CRC Orientation page to learn more. To enroll, email crctrain@umn.edu or visit the CRC Orientation Moodle page (requires U of M login).

Two additional new members have been accepted into the Clinical and Translational Science Institute's research career development programs. These programs provide a career development infrastructure that supports junior investigators as they build independent research careers and pursue federal grants.

Drs. Lucie Turcotte and Alexa Pragman will start their respective programs on Sept. 1, along with several other recent awardees.

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The New Investigator Pre-K Career Development Program provides mentorship, training, and funds to new investigators interested in clinical and translational research. The program is designed to prepare investigators to successfully compete for NIH K career development awards.

Lucie Turcotte, MD, Department of Pediatrics
Project title: The Role of the Immune System in Development of Cardiometabolic Syndrome Among Survivors of Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation
Primary mentor: Michael Verneris, MD

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The KL2 Scholars Career Development Program is designed to develop the next generation of clinical investigators through a structured training program with a mentored, multidisciplinary clinical research emphasis, salary support, and research funds. This three-year program aims to place junior investigators on the path to be competitive for NIH K- or R-series awards.

Alexa Pragman, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine
Project title: Evaluation of the Lung Microbiota and Inflammation in the Progression of COPD
Primary mentor: Christine H. Wendt, MD

Scientific-research.jpgWe've all read about exciting health breakthroughs, but how do these discoveries make their way into new treatments, therapies, and tools?

In the April issue of Minnesota Health Care News, two members of our leadership team talk about how research is conducted, and detail the Clinical and Translational Science Institute's approach. Authors Jeffrey Miller, MD, and Timothy Schacker, MD, recognize the challenges of making the leap from discovery to availability, saying:

"Powerful insights and promising solutions perish due to a lack of funding, support, research participants, and technical expertise. And those that prevail have a long road ahead, making their way from the lab to clinical trials, and, ultimately to the patient."

While obstacles can't be eliminated, research institutions can find more efficient ways to overcome them. The article stresses the importance of taking a team approach, in which researchers leverage support, services, and expertise, to advance through the development pipeline.

For example, researchers with projects in the early stages of translation can turn to CTSI's Office of Discovery and Translation. There, they have access to expertise, guidance, connections, and funding that can help them advance their promising ideas and discoveries.

Resources that streamline the process are also important. The authors highlight CTSI's efforts to give researchers access to the information they need to study medical conditions, analyze patient outcomes, and pinpoint best practices across large populations. Researchers can leverage a clinical data repository that houses the electronic medical records of more than 2 million patients, plus a planned repository will house a wide range of bodily samples, each specimen a source of valuable research information.

It's not just about supporting researchers already on the translational path. Drs. Miller and Schacker stress the importance of training the next generation of researchers and building community relationships, too:

"We are also thinking beyond the scientific process, with programs that provide researchers with career development and training and spur collaboration with communities to conduct, disseminate and apply research."

To learn more about translational research and the infrastructure CTSI is building to support it, click here to read the full story (page 16).

Mentorship. Resources. Educational seminars. These are just a few things that came to mind when we asked researchers how the Clinical and Translational Science Institute helped them be more successful.

In our latest video, two scholars in CTSI career development programs talk about how CTSI impacted their research careers:

Resources that advance research
Tetyana Shippee, PhD, a CTSI KL2 Scholar and Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health says she would not be able to do the kind of research she's doing without support from CTSI. She adds:

"My CTSI experience is vital for me in being able to do this kind of work, not just because of getting the resources and time, but also the proper mentorship and support. I really appreciate the opportunities and resources that CTSI has given me."

Dr. Shippee's research focuses on identifying and understanding what contributes to quality of life for older adults in long-term care settings. She partnered with the Department of Human Services to move forward with her project, which examined how facility and resident characteristics correlate to quality of life domains, which range from environment to personal attention.

Her goal is to design an intervention to improve quality of life for nursing home residents through better engagement and relationships with staff. She sees many opportunities to translate her findings, noting in her poster session abstract:

"While there is substantial research on quality of care in nursing homes, less is known about what contributes to quality of life for nursing home residents. A clear understanding of what impacts quality of life can inform policy and practice to improve resident well-being."

Momentum from mentorship
CTSI F&T Scholar David Knorr, MD, PhD, a Medical School trainee, also stressed the importance of having research mentors, a perk that all CTSI scholars receive:

"To me, it's all about mentorship. Somewhere along the way, you need somebody to provide that support, that advice, and the encouragement. Through the mentorship and funding from the CTSI F&T Trainee Program, I've been able to do translational research projects."

Dr. Knorr's research efforts focus on evaluating the immune response against influenza following bone marrow transplants. While such transplants can cure leukemia, patients remain susceptible to life-threatening infections for months to years afterwards. Vaccinations can provide some protection against viruses such as influenza, but a better understanding of why transplant recipients respond poorly is needed.

As Knorr notes in his poster session abstract, "Studying why some transplant recipients respond to influenza vaccination while others do not is critical to improving current clinical care."