Rutgers-led Team Launches Science and Medicine Research Initiative to Transform Health Care in New Jersey

Leaders from health care, pharma, public policy, and government discuss plans to hasten clinical trials, develop new therapies and train a new scientific workforce in the Garden State

Newswise — New Jersey residents will have access to the newest clinical trials and medical breakthroughs as a result of an innovative consortium between Rutgers University, Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

At an event Thursday organized by that consortium, the New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science (NJACTS), thought leaders from academia, health care, government and the pharmaceutical industry discussed the future of scientific and clinical trial innovation in the state. These new innovations will result from a $33-million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“We aim to shorten the time it takes to get innovative drugs in the market, train the next generation of translational scientists, engage patients and communities, integrate special and underserved populations, advance the use of big data information and increase the quality and efficiency in translational research,” said Reynold Panettieri, vice chancellor for translational medicine and science, and director of Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science.

Panelists at Thursday’s event, termed “The Evolution of a Revolution in Health”, discussed potential solutions for unmet health care needs in New Jersey and how the private sector can collaborate with academic researchers to develop cutting-edge treatments.

“This grant is a huge win for New Jersey and shows our eagerness to expand clinical research to improve the health for more than nine million people,” said Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and executive vice president for health affairs for Rutgers.

Other discussions revolved around how partners involved in the new grant will attract and train new researchers to the state, use machine learning and precision medicine to diagnose and treat diseases, as well as to expand access to clinical trials for New Jersey residents.

“Collaborative partnerships like these are important to the mission of New Jersey’s health care systems and a testament to the amazing work we can do when brilliant minds come together to effect change,” said Barry Ostrowsky, president and CEO, RWJBarnabas Health.

“The discoveries that will come from the collaborations of these great institutions will help minority groups and break barriers in clinical advancements, which will go a long way in changing policies that directly affect New Jerseyans,” said Heather Howard, a lecturer in public affairs at Princeton University and a former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.

During a panel discussion on public policy, New Jersey Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (18th District) emphasized the importance of streamlining health data so researchers and health care partners can grow medical advancements in the state. Assemblywoman Pinkin, who is the vice chair of the Assembly’s Health and Senior Services Committee, added that all stakeholders must strive to reduce the disparities in health care delivery.

Other speakers at the event included Rutgers President Robert Barchi and Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher Molloy.

The NJACTS initiative is the first NIH-funded program of its kind in the New Jersey. It is part of a nationally supported network of more than 50 programs at medical research institutions that collaborate to speed the translation of research discoveries into improved patient care. 

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