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Northwestern Awarded $27.2M to Transform Scientific Discovery into Treatments

NU Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute will focus on promoting clinical trials

  • Ensuring diverse populations get access to clinical trials 
  • Institute will break down hurdles from discovery to clinical trials
  • Program manager will be imbedded in Chicago department of health to engage community

CHICAGO --- It can take more than a decade and billions of dollars to develop a new drug and bring it to market. To help push promising treatments out of laboratories and to the patients who need them more quickly, Northwestern University has received a four-year, $27.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to renew the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences (NUCATS) Institute.

The new Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), funded by the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, will prioritize making research more accessible to patients by involving them in clinical trials.

“It takes too long for new scientific discoveries to get to places where they can make a meaningful impact on patients,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of NUCATS. “We’re trying to break down major hurdles in the middle of the translational pipeline -- where we conduct clinical trials with real people to see whether a new medical device or drug actually works in the real world.”

In addition to helping investigators with the regulatory and financial hurdles that can prevent scientific discoveries from reaching patients, NUCATS also will make sure diverse patient populations have the opportunity to get involved in clinical trials to test new treatments.

Learning From Every Clinical Experience

NUCATS launched in 2007 as a hub to support and accelerate research across six schools at Northwestern University and three clinical partners in Chicago: Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Over the last five years, NUCATS served 3,174 investigators and assisted in the publication of 974 scientific papers.

Over the next four years, NUCATS will focus on engaging community stakeholders to make sure all patients are involved in research, including pediatric patients, patients with disabilities, older adults or patients from underrepresented groups.

To raise awareness about the importance of clinical research, NUCATS and Chicago’s two other CTSAs at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago will partner to embed a special program manager at the Chicago Department of Public Health.

“This person will be charged with engaging community members, organizations, city leadership and county leadership to make sure that this agenda is on the radar of our communities and our leaders, Lloyd-Jones said. ”We all need to participate in clinical research in order to make sure that our health care does improve tomorrow.”

The program manager also will ensure research efforts meet the needs and desires of specific communities across Chicago, including populations traditionally underrepresented in clinical research, city agencies, faith-based organizations and industry partners.

“Through this award, and over the next four years, the NUCATS Institute will continue to be a national leader in speeding transformative research discoveries to patients and the community,” Lloyd-Jones said.

Patients who want to get involved in clinical research can contact NUCATS, or talk to their health care provider about opportunities to participate.

The new CTSA activities are funded by NCATS grants UL1TR001422, TL1TR001423 and KL2TR001424.

-- Story by Nora Dunne

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