Coveted federal translational research award comes to S.A.

SAN ANTONIO (May 29, 2008)—A South Texas consortium led by The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is receiving a $26 million Clinical and Translational Science Award to speed biomedical breakthroughs to improve the health of the people in the region’s communities.

The National Institutes of Health/National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) announced the five-year award today.

The Health Science Center joins Harvard, Stanford and 11 other U.S. institutions that captured the award in this round.

NCRR announced 24 Clinical and Translational Science Awards the past two years.

The Health Science Center joins the UT Health Science Center at Houston (2006) and the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas (2007) as the only recipients in Texas.

Accelerating the pathway

“It takes a long time to move a new exciting discovery from the laboratory to clinical application at the bedside,” Robert A. Clark, M.D., principal investigator of the San Antonio award, said. “This award will accelerate that pathway by providing support for clinical and translational research, as well as by removing some of the current barriers faced by our investigators. For therapies that are promising, the award will facilitate research showing their effectiveness in a community setting. Finally, this award will move those interventions into the community, hopefully improving the overall health of our citizens.”

Work began in 2005

Dr. Clark is professor of medicine and assistant vice president for clinical research at the Health Science Center, where he led a three-year effort by more than 150 people at eight San Antonio and South Texas consortium partners to secure the Clinical and Translational Science Award.

The award establishes the Health Science Center’s Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science, the entity responsible for realizing the vision that optimal research will improve health.

The award is viewed as one of the most significant federal selections in the history of the Health Science Center and San Antonio’s biosciences community. Only 60 institutions ultimately will be granted Clinical and Translational Science Award status among 125 academic health science centers nationwide.

Collaboration and validation

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center, said: “The fact we were selected for the Clinical and Translational Science Award in the third round of funding, in the company of Harvard and other leading institutions and ahead of many other deserving institutions, demonstrates our capacity to coordinate our resources and partners to effectively and successfully compete for this major NIH funding. It validates the Health Science Center’s position as a premier American academic health science center.”

Core areas

“The Clinical and Translational Science Award supports many key functions, including regulatory and compliance issues, animal care and oversight, human subject research, biomedical research ethics, and core facilities needed in modern biomedical research,” said Brian Herman, Ph.D., vice president for research at the Health Science Center. “Bioinformatics is a very high priority area. The award supports the latest in data gathering and analysis, matching up clinical partner databases with research databases to try to get the most out of the information generated.”

New Ph.D. program

Research education, training and career development are primary foci of the Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science.

Michael J. Lichtenstein, M.D., M.Sc., a co-principal investigator from the Health Science Center, said the hard-earned NCRR award will lead to development of a new interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in clinical and translational science that trains the next generations of physicians, dentists, nurses and allied health professionals to conduct the research necessary to improve the health of San Antonians and South Texans.

The program, to be shared among South Texas components of the U.T. System, is expected to be submitted for U.T. System Board of Regents and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approval in the next three years.

Dr. Lichtenstein; Robin Brey, M.D.; and Kenneth Hargreaves, D.D.S., Ph.D., of the Health Science Center are the co-principal investigators on the San Antonio award.

Community partners

Drs. Cigarroa, Herman and Clark thanked the strongly supportive community partners without whom the award would not be possible:

  • CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health Care
  • San Antonio Metropolitan Health District
  • San Antonio Military Medical Center
  • South Texas Veterans Health Care System
  • Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research
  • University Health System
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio

They also thanked South Texas partners UT-Pan American at Edinburg, UT Brownsville and the UT School of Public Health.

Physicians and public

UT Medicine, the multispecialty practice group consisting of Health Science Center faculty physicians, will be integrally involved in the bioinformatics and community engagement portions of the award, as will private practice physicians, patient advocacy groups and others.

“The Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science will provide the infrastructure to support our faculty’s efforts to bring scientific discoveries to bear positively on the health of the people of South Texas, the U.S. and the world,” Dr. Clark said.


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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $576 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 23,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit

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