Medical Center and College post record research funding year

Penn State’s securing of a prestigious five-year, $27.3 million award from the National Institutes of Health designed to accelerate the translation of scientific discovery into methods for improving public health was a highlight of the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s public board of directors meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Harold L. Paz, Medical Center CEO, Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine, reported that Medical Center and College of Medicine faculty earned a record $105.4 million in external research support in 2010-11, more than $5 million higher than last year’s total.

Medical Center and College investigators received 648 grant awards from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011 with $66.1 million coming from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The largest research commitment secured over the past year is a five-year, $27.3 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) to the University, the College of Medicine and the Medical Center to support the work of the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). Penn State is among only 60 organizations nationally to hold a CTSA grant.

“We’re proud to be among a select group to hold this award,” Paz said. “Not only will this research advance scientific knowledge in ways that improve patient care and benefit our community, but we also expect it to serve as a boost to the regional economy, creating high quality jobs related to the development and commercialization of medical breakthroughs.”

The Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, from the NIH’s National Center for Research Resources, supports a national consortium of medical research institutions designed to transform how biomedical research is conducted. Its goals are to speed the translation of laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, to engage communities in clinical research efforts, and to train a new generation of clinical and translational researchers.

The CTSA grant to Penn State will support new or expanded research infrastructure, research faculty and staff salaries and new educational programs to encourage students to enter fields related to clinical and translational science. The CTSI also will create opportunities for communication and interaction with members of the central Pennsylvania community to learn what progress is being made and to share their insights into which health issues biomedical researchers should study.

“Tomorrow’s treatments and cures for disease will be tailored to the individual based on their genetic makeup and the environment in which they live as opposed to broadly targeting a particular disease or condition,” said Daniel Notterman, M.A., M.D., vice dean for research and graduate studies for the College of Medicine, Penn State’s associate vice president for health sciences research, and a professor of pediatrics, biochemistry and molecular biology.

“Through the CTSA grant and other existing collaborations across fields and disciplines of study, our investigators are well positioned to advance scientific discovery into treatments that can be evaluated and ultimately put into practice to benefit the health of people in the communities we serve.”
Paz also will share other research highlights from fiscal year 2011, including:

-- Inclusion of a College of Medicine experiment on bone density that traveled on board NASA’s final space shuttle mission.

-- A $1 million grant from the Gates Foundation to researcher Jose A. Stout to continue his research into the potential for microwaves to kill malaria.

-- A $2.5 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to researcher Sue Grigson to support her study of the genetics of addiction.

--The founding of Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center, a collaboration of researchers and clinical care providers from dermatology, oncology, pharmacology and other areas with a goal of identifying and evaluating new agents and clinical interventions for melanoma. The center is funded in part by more than $1 million from the Foreman Foundation.

-- Recruitment of two new basic science department chairs, Aron E. Lukacher from Emory University School of Medicine, who will succeed Richard Courtney as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in January; and James R. Broach of Princeton University, who will succeed Judith Bond as chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in February.

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Last Updated September 08, 2011