WVU Health Sciences Gets $19.6 Million Research Grant From NIH

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., Aug. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center of West Virginia University has been awarded a $19.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will be used to address the health issues that most commonly affect West Virginians.

The grant to the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI) is part of the NIH Institutional Development Award Program for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR). The federal program provides funding for the development of infrastructure and to enable scientists to become more competitive for NIH and other biomedical research funding opportunities over the next five years.

Clinical and translational research is defined as research intended to move quickly from the laboratory to the patient - commonly referred to as bench to bedside - that more directly and specifically affects patient care.

In addition to the NIH grant, other leading educational, health sciences and healthcare entities from across the state have committed to providing another $33.5 million to the WVCTSI, to make the total initiative worth an unprecedented $53.1 million over the next five years.

The partnership includes the West Virginia University Health Sciences Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health; WVU Healthcare and the West Virginia United Health System; Charleston Area Medical Center, CAMC Institute and WVU-Charleston; the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and more.

"This NIH grant serves to instantly propel WVU Health Sciences onto a higher level as a research institution," Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., chancellor for WVU Health Sciences, said. "I consider this one of the greatest accomplishments to have occurred in the history of WVU Health Sciences. It will help us to transform lives and eliminate the health disparities in the state."

Colenda said the grant would pay for infrastructure - the people, equipment, programs and protocols - that would qualify WVU for more and greater NIH grants in clinical translational research that would fund specific disease-related studies to target cancer, heart disease, stroke and obesity related diseases.

Under the grant, 24 physician scientists will be hired over the next five years, along with 22 other staff and professional positions.

The principal investigator for WVU is Uma Sundaram, M.D., director of the WVCTSI.

"Here, as at many other health centers, there is excellent research and excellent patient care. What we need is a stronger connection between the two," Dr. Sundaram said. "WVCTSI will become that connection. What that means for the patient is a new approach and new options for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention."

The other state partners in the grant include the WVU College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, the College of Human Resources and Education, School of Journalism and the College of Business and Economics; the WVU Research Corporation; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; and the Governor's Office of Health Enhancement and Lifestyle Planning (GO HELP).

The grant will allow the WVCTSI to establish collaboration among the in-state partners, and with other institutions that already have established and NIH-funded programs in clinical and translational research, such as the University of Kentucky, Ohio State University and Indiana University, who were all part of WVU's grant application.

"This is about improving healthcare and improving lives," Jim Clements, Ph.D., WVU president, said. "It is about our flagship, land-grant, research university mission. We could not be more proud or more humbled to be a part of this great initiative, and I congratulate those who worked so hard to make this happen."

The grant required a 472-page application to the NIH. With this award, WVU will join an elite group that's part of a national consortium committed to improve human health by streamlining science, transforming training environments and improving the conduct, quality and dissemination of clinical and translational research.

"This award represents an excellent opportunity for West Virginia University to lead the establishment of the research infrastructure and capacity necessary for conducting productive clinical and translational research programs in the state," said Sidney McNairy, Ph.D., D.Sc., an IDeA program official at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The National Institutes of Health, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

The grant number for the WVU IDeA-CTR is U54GM104942.

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SOURCE WVU Healthcare and West Virginia University Health Sciences