Researchers from 13 institutions representing seven western states gathered at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas June 8-10 to share successes and opportunities in clinical and translational research at the Second Annual Meeting of the Mountain West Clinical and Translational Research-Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN). UNLV and the University of Nevada School of Medicine are co-administrators of a five-year, $20 million grant supported by the National Institutes of Health through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
States represented in the Mountain West CTR-IN include Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming. The CTR-IN's mission is "to increase the quantity, quality, and number of successful NIH grant applications in clinical and translational research." Clinical research studies answer specific health questions. Translational research implements a "bench to bedside" process of applying laboratory knowledge to produce new drugs, devices and treatment options for patients.
The grant supports patient-oriented research that will produce outcomes to improve health, address health issues relevant to the western U.S. and, ultimately, save lives.
"It's exciting to get together face-to-face," said James Kenyon, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research at the University of Nevada School of Medicine and CTR-IN project coordinator. "The bulk of clinical research in the United States is done on one or the other coasts, and while they have great intentions, they aren't necessarily attuned to our regional issues in the west. The grant purpose is to get the research here - homegrown research," he added.
"This second annual meeting demonstrates that by providing modest funding to promising researchers, we are able to make a difference and generate some really excellent science," said Robert Langer, M.D., MPH, associate dean for clinical and translational research at the School of Medicine and CTR-IN principal investigator. "We are starting to see culture change at institutions in our network where basic [laboratory-based] science has been the rule. Now, less than two years since the CTR-IN began, we are seeing increasing success among our clinical scientists. Their work is bringing in new grants from the NIH and other major sponsors to study important regional health problems, such as childhood obesity and smoking cessation."
In addition to presenting their research projects in poster and general oral sessions, researchers participated in sessions covering how to maximize mentoring opportunities, using biostatistics and writing successful grant proposals. A "speed-dating for researchers" event allowed scientists to be matched in small groups organized around specific research interests to explore collaborative possibilities.
School of Medicine Dean Thomas Schwenk, M.D., is co-chair of the CTR-IN internal advisory committee. School of Medicine and University of Nevada, Reno researchers in attendance included Heather Burkin, Ph.D; Isabel Silvestre, Ph.D.; Gayle Allenback, MPH; Echezona Ezeanolue, M.D.; Kenneth Izuora, M.D.; Ewa Olech, M.D.; Julie Hogan, Ph.D.; Jeff Angermann, Ph.D.; David Quilici, Ph.D.; Rachel Weber, M.D.; Iain Buxton, Pharm.D.; Vani Dandolu, M.D., MPH, MBA; and John Foreyt, Ph.D.
Allenback, Ezeanolue and Izuora are collaborating with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine to explore the links between diabetes and tooth loss.
"We are trying to understand the explanation for higher tooth loss among diabetics. In our study, 15 percent of diabetics of average age 59 years had lost all of their teeth," said Izuora. "One of the key advantages of this conference is the opportunity to get feedback from outside - to see if your research makes sense. It also presents the opportunity to get ideas and explore other questions that will help us to design further studies," he added.
For further information on the Mountain West Clinical and Translational Research-Infrastructure Network, visit ctrin.unlv.edu.