West Virginia health research gets $55 million boost

NIH grant spurs universities, hospitals and clinics to joint effort

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Recommitting themselves to bring the benefits of research out of labs and hospitals and into the lives of West Virginia people and communities, a coalition of federal agencies, universities, hospitals and clinics will develop dozens of efforts over the next five years to battle addiction and cancer and reduce the impact of cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

A $20 million federal grant will be matched by $35.5 million in continued support from in-state partners to fund the program.

The West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI) has successfully competed for renewal funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a five-year $20 million grant to improve health outcomes in West Virginia. This grant provides five more years of funding, extending WVCTSI’s 2012 Institutional Development Award for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR) through 2022.

 “This funding will enable WVCTSI to reach a new level of statewide programming, supporting West Virginia investigators in academic medical centers and community clinics to find real solutions that will lead to better health for West Virginians,” said Sally Hodder, M.D., WVCTSI director and principal investigator.

“West Virginia University's mission to serve the state can't be met without strong links between our scientists, clinicians and the communities we serve. The biggest contributions that Dr. Hodder and all the partners in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute have made to our health are the thousands of connections they've created among researchers, doctors, nurses, and health professionals in dozens of communities across West Virginia,” said Clay Marsh, M.D., vice president and executive dean for health sciences at WVU. “Together, they are changing how research is done and changing the lives of people for the better."

With this new funding, WVCTSI will continue to offer funding and services to accelerate the creation and translation of new knowledge to impact health issues in rural communities. Additionally, WVCTSI has planned new programs and support, particularly for early career researchers starting their career in West Virginia. WVCTSI resources will be focused on five priority health areas including addiction and resulting emerging epidemics (such as hepatitis C), cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, and neurologic diseases.

“I am incredibly proud of the WVCTSI’s success and excited by the potential for impact that their research can have within West Virginia and beyond,” said Fred King, Ph.D., vice president for research at WVU. “West Virginia University and the WVCTSI have been integral to developing our state’s capacity as a national contender in biomedical research. The WVCTSI is also central to our University’s success in achieving recognition as a Highest Research Activity University, R1, in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.”

Over the past five years WVCTSI has leveraged meaningful partnerships with academic and clinical institutions from across the state including WVU Medicine, the Charleston Area Medical Center, WVU (including regional campuses in Charleston and Martinsburg), and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. WVCTSI is strengthened and enhanced by the addition of three new partners in the upcoming funding cycle including, Marshall University, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Together, these organizations have committed an additional $35.5 million to WVCTSI, for a total funding commitment of $55.5 million over the next five years.

“We were delighted to learn of the renewed funding for the WVCTSI. The Charleston Campus of the WVU Health Sciences Center has for decades worked closely with the Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), our teaching hospital, and the CAMC Health Education and Research Institute.  CAMC partnered with WVU in our effort to secure initial funding, and this renewal allows us to continue clinical translational research with the citizens of southern West Virginia, a setting of immense challenges and need,” said John Linton, Ph.D., associate vice president and dean of the WVU School of Medicine – Charleston Campus. “Our geographic locale is a specific strength as we work both with a large tertiary care center and rural primary care settings, providing innovative evidence based care to worthy but underserved areas of our state. This cross institutional cooperation is the linchpin for success as we craft the health and wellness vital to West Virginia’s transformation.”

“We are excited about being part of the WVCTSI and contributing to this statewide initiative to support clinical and translational research. This program will provide research and collaborative opportunities for our faculty that could ultimately lead to improvements in health for all West Virginians. With our expertise in genomics, strong interest in addiction research and capacity for conducting clinical trials, Marshall will provide added strength to already strong program,” said Gary Rankin, Ph.D., vice dean for basic sciences at Marshall University.

 “The WVCTSI renewal will create outstanding new opportunities for NIOSH and WVCTSI investigators to work together in addressing the occupational safety and health needs of West Virginia and the region,” said David Weissman, M.D., director of the Respiratory Health Divison at NIOSH. “We are very excited about the opportunities to combine the strengths of NIOSH and WVCTSI to do this work.  Combining NIOSH’s substantial multidisciplinary expertise in occupational safety and health with the biomedical and public health expertise of WVCTSI will enable combined efforts that neither group could do alone.”

“The Martinsburg VA Medical Center is pleased to learn of the recent funding decision to continue support of the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute,” said John P. Foley, Ph.D., facility research coordinator and integrated ethics program officer with the Martinsburg VA Medical Center. “The renewal of this funding will support training of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) staff in developing research plans and, aid in supporting pilot studies that may lead to additional funding for local research.”

“It is always exciting when we can collaborate with institutions in the state. The CTSI grant enables WVSOM researchers to work with those at WVU, Marshall, and CAMC on joint projects to promote scientific discovery. We are particularly excited about enhancing our community research projects that seek to bring better health care to the people of West Virginia,” said Craig Boisvert, D.O., vice president for academic affairs and dean of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Over the past five years of funding, WVCTSI created the state’s first Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN), a group of 74 primary care clinics (mostly rural) that has conducted 77 projects related to improving health in West Virginia. Many of these community projects have impacted the way rural healthcare providers treat patients.

 

“The PBRN with its many dedicated, talented healthcare providers, is truly one of the great achievements of the WVCTSI and is critical to improving health outcomes in West Virginia,” said Hodder. “Over the next five years the PBRN will continue to drive innovative and meaningful solutions to improve health in West Virginia.”

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and IDeA Program: NIH, 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. The IDeA program builds research capacities in states that historically have had low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical and translational research; faculty development; and infrastructure improvements. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

WVCTSI FAQ's

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CONTACT:

Ian Moore

West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute

304.581.1781