Newswise — The UC Davis Clinical Translational Science Center (CTSC) received notice of its third National Institutes of Health (NIH) award renewal, a vote of confidence in the center’s ability to advance outstanding research in human health.

The 5-year award, almost $33 million, comes from NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS). It provides critical funding to CTSC to continue its essential services for the UC Davis research community.

“Our expert CTSC faculty and staff have built a nationally recognized translational research culture at UC Davis,” said Allison Brashear, dean of UC Davis School of Medicine. “The CTSC’s NIH grant renewal recognizes the tremendous value of their contributions in promoting distinguished health scholarship and in reducing health disparities.”

One of the first clinical translational science centers in the U.S.

In 2006, UC Davis received one of the first 12 NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) in the nation to establish a center for clinical and translational science. The center supported the full spectrum of translational research (from bench to bedside to dissemination and implementation). It served as a hub for researchers promoting human health. In 2011 and 2016, under the leadership of Lars Berglund, the CTSC was successfully renewed.

Now, directed by Ted Wun and associate director Nicholas Kenyon, the CTSC will initiate its 4th consecutive award  – one of only a handful of institutions across the United States with this fortunate distinction – providing funding for another five years (2021-26).

CTSC enables translational science at UC Davis

Over the years, CTSC programs have blossomed into a mature and highly valued institutional infrastructure with connections across UC Davis, the UC system and the national CTSA consortium.

“The CTSC embraces a flexible and collaborative culture aimed at research facilitation and resource sharing,” said Wun, CTSC director and UC Davis School of Medicine associate dean for research. “We work behind-the-scenes to enhance biomedical research at UC Davis.”

With robust institutional support to augment NIH grant funding, the CTSC promotes translational research at UC Davis by:

  • Training and cultivating the workforce
  • Engaging patients and communities in every phase of the translational process
  • Supporting the integration of special and underserved populations in research across the human lifespan to promote health equity
  • Innovating processes to increase the quality and efficiency of research, particularly of multisite trials
  • Advancing the use of cutting-edge informatics

CTSC-affiliated faculty and staff facilitate research across disciplines. They help form, support and retain research teams working to improve human health.

The CTSC fosters trainee and scholar success at all career stages. For example, it manages KL2 and TL1 awards for UC Davis. KL2 awards support highly qualified junior faculty to conduct mentored, multidisciplinary, patient-oriented clinical research. The TL1 program provides clinical and translational research training for medical and predoctoral students and postdoctoral trainees in the basic sciences.

The CTSC also facilitates better health among underserved rural communities, such as the San Juaquin Valley. It has established strong community partnerships to advance health care access and community-based participatory research. Recently, it offered the Vietnamese Mini-Medical School and the Food for All initiative, in support of the Asian community in Sacramento.

CTSC mobilization during COVID-19

The CTSC impact on clinical and translational science at UC Davis was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the center pivoted to provide specialized support to research teams conducting studies on coronavirus. It enhanced access to digital health data, helped recruit participants, provided regulatory support and implemented protocols for many of the COVID-related clinical trials.

“We are proud of the way UC Davis, and the CTSC, responded to this pandemic with robust research and collaborations,” said Prasant Mohapatra, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. “The CTSC has established multiple grant-funded projects to address the disproportionate impact that COVID had on underserved communities.”