The Pilot Grants program has funded more than 350 projects totaling over $14 million in funding. The awards are divided between senior and junior PI investigators, and are distributed across all CTSA partner institutions, spanning a spectrum of translational research topics.
Pilot Grant recipients have subsequently received $134 million in extramural funding as a result of the preliminary work funded by the Pilot Grants program. The Pilot Grants program has also led to the issuance of 10 new patents leading to innovative medical practices and technologies.
Clinical Research Sites
Georgia CTSA Clinical Research Centers (GCRCs) protocols continue to grow and establish sites beyond metro Atlanta with the addition of the University of Georgia Clinical & Translational Research Unit located in Athens, GA. The addition of the University of Georgia as a partner with Georgia CTSA enables the GCRCs to increase our reach throughout the state. The GCRCs enhanced the efficiency of the scientific review of research protocols, reducing the average time from submission to approval from 43 days to 19 days, while simultaneously improving the methods for biostatistical and safety review of all human subjects research protocols. In addition to serving Emory University and Emory Healthcare, GCRCs' Phlebotomy Training Course is now open to Morehouse School of Medicine and University of Georgia faculty and staff. GCRCs nurses continue to participate in the preceptorship of nursing students in Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing's accelerated BSN program. CR-Assist, the GCRCs/Informatics-developed, web-based participant scheduling and tracking system received national attention from the CTSA Consortium and is now in use at the University of Chicago Institute for Translational Medicine Clinical Research Center. Collaboration with Winship Cancer Institute (WCI) is strengthened by regular nursing support provided to the WCI Phase 1 Unit. GCRCs nurses also travel off-site to support more projects at the Emory Genetics Center and the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Finally, the GCRCs and Pediatrics program have increased support for outpatient protocols conducted at the Emory-Children's Center.
Education & Training
Lauren Collins, MD, recent Georgia CTSA TL1 trainee and scheduled to graduate with a Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) degree in spring 2020, has a recent first author publication in JAMA entitled, "Invasive Nontypeable Haemophilus Influenzae Infection Among Adults with HIV in Metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, 2008-2018." Collins also gave an oral presentation at IDWeek 2019 in Washington, DC, entitled, The Prevalence and Burden of Non-AIDS Comorbidities in Women with or at-risk for HIV Infection in the United States. In this study, Collins and her colleagues found the non-AIDS comorbidities burden was high in both HIV+ and at-risk HIV- women, but higher in HIV+ women overall and in certain age groups. These findings have complex implications for clinical care, medication management, and healthcare screening that must be further examined in this population.
Vas Michopoulus, PhD, MSc, is a former TL1 trainee and independently-funded investigator with four NIH grants for her work on how psychosocial stress exposure adversely affects behavior and physiology. Her recent paper in AJP In Advance links inflammation to risk for PTSD and is entitled, "Association of Prospective Risk for Chronic PTSD Symptoms with Low TNF and IFN Concentrations in the Immediate Aftermath of Trauma Exposure." Michopoulus also serves on our Research Education Executive Committee.
In addition, another one of our recent TL1 trainees, Jessica-Howard Anderson, MD, received a $220K grant related to the NIH-funded Antibacterial Resistance Leadership Group (ARLG).
Innovation Catalyst accelerates health technology through engagement, education, and outreach. New initiatives in the Bench2Market suite of commercialization services include BizGrants for SBIR/STTR grant writing consulting and pilot grants in order to foster more investigators applying for small business funding. RegRoadmap launched as a consulting service to assist investigators in formulating successful product development strategies.
Informatics accelerates translation of health innovations from concept to community by funding, building, collaborating on, and promoting data access and infrastructure for research problems. Recently launched training initiatives for i2b2 and the ACT Network that brings real-time cohort exploration and discovery to its researchers. An OMOP-based HIV data registry at Grady Health System was completed with the Emory Center for AIDS Research. In addition to work with the OMOP common data model, GA Tech's Clarity NLP for clinical natural language process was installed at Emory for testing and evaluation. Data continues to be added to Emory's and MSM's feeds to All of Us and to the Southeast SHRINE's AKI and opioid projects.
Pediatrics continues to build a citywide infrastructure for expanded pediatric-focused clinical and translational research within the Georgia CTSA academic institutional partnerships. The Pediatric Research Unit was relocated to the new Center for Advanced Pediatrics, a state-of-the-art facility for leading-edge research and outpatient pediatric care under one roof for the first time in Georgia. Research facilitation and the conduct of pediatric studies increased by over 25%, including a Metabolic Camp where medical care was provided to pediatric patients. Expanded services available to investigators include developmental pediatrics, allergy/immunology, psychology, and nursing.
Pediatrics sponsored the Southeastern Pediatric Research Conference attended by nearly 400 individuals across the U.S., including all four partner institutions. At MSM, Pediatrics hosted the Annual HeLa Women's Health Symposium. For families, Pediatrics sponsored the KIDS booth at the Atlanta Science Festival.
Community Engagement launched a 3-tier system of support for community to facilitate relationships among diverse stakeholders that work together to advance population health. Community Engagement mini grants were recently funded for children of incarcerated parents, food insecurity, and opioid use/risk reduction.
Capacity building workshops were held for community members across the state that provided culturally and contextually competent training on: 1) How to Establish and Maintain 501(3) Non-Profit Status and 2) Two-day Grant Writing Crash Course. In addition, the 4th Annual Biennial Community Engagement Forum provided participants with the tools necessary to develop and sustain successful and mutually beneficial community-university partnerships to increase public health in Atlanta and beyond.
Regulatory Knowledge & Support
The Regulatory Knowledge & Support program led enhancements of clinical research efficiencies through institutional agreements. e.g. IRB reciprocity and IP and Data Use agreements. The Online Ethics Center includes over 40 ethical dilemmas in scientific research and expert opinions in PDF, video, and podcast formats. We are exploring additional opportunities for disseminating this unique offering.
Regulatory Knowledge & Support also facilitated the adaption of the UGA School of Pharmacy online course for the Emory online learning system and worked with the UGA College of Engineering to create a five year BS/MS that will lead to Pharmaceutical Engineering specialization.