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UNLV, Senator Reid Announce $20 Million NIH Grant to Support Clinical and Bench-to-Bedside Research

UNLV leads regional 13-university partnership, with University of Nevada School of Medicine, to put clinical health research into practice.
Research  |  Sep 18, 2013  |  By Tony Allen
Media Contact: Tony Allen (UNLV): 702-895-3102, tony.allen@unlv.edu; Susan G. Hill (Nevada School of Medicine) 775-784-6006, susanhill@unr.edu

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and Nevada Senator Harry Reid announced a five-year, $20.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead a health research network of 13 universities across the Mountain West. The University of Nevada School of Medicine will partner on the grant. 

The Clinical Translational Research Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN) will expand the capacity of partner institutions across seven states to put clinical research into practice to address regional health concerns including access to care, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular and infectious diseases.

“This grant will be a game-changer for Nevada and the entire region,” said program director Dr. Robert D. Langer, a physician and epidemiologist with more than 25 years of related research experience. Langer holds faculty appointments at UNLV’s School of Allied Health Sciences and the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

”We will now have the means to address the unique health needs of people in the Mountain West, which covers one third of the U.S. and faces tremendous healthcare delivery challenges,” said Langer. “While we’ve been successful in building basic science research, until now we’ve had a tough time building traction for research that can help everyday people. This grant will help us change that.”

Partner institutions will share resources and expertise to centralize services for researchers. This will improve research capacity at the institutional level and increase the likelihood for future independent NIH-funded research studies. Services/resources include:

  • Pilot grants of one to two years per award for clinical and translational research.
  • A virtual clinical translational science center hosted at UNLV and tailored to the needs of the 13 partner institutions.
  • Mini-sabbaticals and visiting scholar awards to promote greater collaboration.
  • Biostatistical support, mentorship, educational opportunities, and editorial and administrative support.
  • Annual meetings focused on themes drawn from the health issues of the region.

“This is wonderful news for UNLV and the University of Nevada School of Medicine,” said Nevada Senator Harry Reid. “They led a collaborative effort to develop a proposal to improve research and medical care across Nevada and parts of the West. I strongly supported this effort and urged the National Institutes of Health to select this grant. These federal grant funds will help Nevada and our universities, research and medical facilities better address some of our most difficult health care challenges.”

Though most CTR-IN universities have successful programs in basic science, they lack capacity in clinical or bench-to-bedside research – what the NIH refers to as translational research – and have limited resources to support faculty conducting this type of work. Only three partner institutions have medical schools and the two outside of Nevada – the Universities of New Mexico and Hawaii – have NIH-funded research centers to provide additional support to CTR-IN partners.  With this grant, Nevada achieves similar leadership capability.

For UNLV, the grant is part of an expected major build-out in health sciences over the next five years and supports the university’s goal to attain status as a Tier 1 research institution.  

“Our region must improve the quality of healthcare available to all Nevadans, and we have an incredible opportunity through this grant to build clinical and related research capacity in Southern Nevada and across the Mountain West,” said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. “This program will allow UNLV and our partners to more readily support the rapid growth of medical advancements by teaming up to solve the unique health issues affecting our region.”

Grant funding comes from the NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program. IDeA grants are intended to enhance the caliber of scientific faculty at research institutions in historically underfunded IDeA-eligible states, thereby attracting more promising faculty and students. The CTR-IN will further this goal among the 13 partnering universities:

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of Nevada, Reno (through the University of Nevada School of Medicine); University of Alaska, Anchorage; University of Alaska, Fairbanks; University of Hawaii at Manoa; Boise State University; Idaho State University; University of Idaho; Montana State University; University of Montana; University of New Mexico; New Mexico State University; and the University of Wyoming. 

“We are extraordinarily pleased to partner with UNLV in a major clinical research grant that will contribute to improving the quality of health and healthcare across Nevada and the western states,” said Thomas L. Schwenk, MD, dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine and vice president of the University of Nevada, Reno, Division of Health Sciences. 

UNLV will coordinate the grant through its School of Allied Health Sciences. Each of the member institutions will provide administrative, personnel and infrastructure support.