The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $58.6 million over the next five years to the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA) to continue its efforts to advance the quality of clinical and translational research and transform research results to impact health in the state of Georgia and beyond. In addition to NIH funding, the Georgia CTSA will receive $15.1 million in institutional support from its academic institutions.
Georgia CTSA is a collaborative research alliance that accelerates clinical and translational education, research, workforce development, and community engagement. Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and the University of Georgia (UGA) form the Georgia CTSA, with partners that include Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“We’re excited to continue this long-standing Georgia-wide partnership providing an environment where clinical and translational research can flourish,” says David S. Stephens, MD, interim executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University.
As the only NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Award in the state, Georgia CTSA has served as a hub for innovation and scientific discovery across Georgia and the southeast region since its inception in 2007. This latest funding award will allow researchers to continue providing support and new tools in bioinformatics and biostatistics, piloting grants to fuel new research, and helping train the next generation of clinical and translational science investigators.
“As in so many industries, Georgia is proud to lead the way in developing healthcare solutions that improve outcomes for all,” says Brian Kemp, Governor, State of Georgia. “This funding award is just the latest recognition of the importance and cutting-edge position of the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance. I want to congratulate its members on this achievement and the positive impact it will have across our state and far beyond.”
To ensure Georgia CTSA’s emphasis on improving treatments reaches the communities and populations at the highest risk for poor health outcomes, Georgia CTSA will establish its central theme aimed at addressing health disparities amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Health equity will be incorporated as a core component of all Georgia CTSA’s proposed work over the next five years.
"The renewal of the Georgia CTSA provides critical support for our institutional alliance as we work together to tackle the major health issues facing the citizens of Georgia,” says W. Robert Taylor, MD, Ph.D., contact principal investigator at Emory University. “We will continue our focus on reducing the tragic health disparities that exist across our state."
One example of how Georgia CTSA can leverage its resources to advance health equity is by creating opportunities to increase the representation of ethnic or racial minority groups in clinical trials and other clinical studies. The Integrating Special Populations program focuses on extending research testing and discovery to all populations in Georgia, with an emphasis on rural health concerns. These types of measures can advance health equity, but more will need to be done to sustain progress.
Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH, principal investigator at MSM says, “our stated goal of enhancing health equity across the state of Georgia will require a sustained effort to address diversity and inclusivity in collaborating with impacted communities, and mentoring diverse early-stage investigators across the Georgia CTSA.”
Over the next five years, Georgia CTSA plans to build on the resounding impact it has already made on statewide research efforts. Through the first four funding cycles, the alliance has awarded 472 pilot grants, contributed to more than 4,000 scientific publications, and assisted over 2,500 investigators.
"We are thrilled to continue our innovative and impactful partnership accelerating clinical and translational education, research, and community engagement with a focus on enhancing health equity across Georgia and addressing the needs of the rural, poor, and underserved populations statewide," says Andrés J. García, Ph.D., principal investigator at Georgia Tech.
Additionally, Georgia CTSA will address the critical need to train a new generation of clinical and translational science investigators. Trainees will be equipped to lead scientific teams that are urgently needed to generate new discoveries and translate discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside and into the community to improve health for all, including underrepresented communities. These mentored research training activities are supported by the KL2 and TL1 research training components of the Georgia CTSA led by multiple principal investigators Henry M. Blumberg, MD; Igho Ofotokun, MD, MSc; and Vasiliki Michopoulos, Ph.D., MSc.
"The Georgia CTSA has achieved so many great milestones in research, outreach, education, and workforce development,” says Bradley G. Phillips, PharmD, principal investigator at UGA. “With amazing faculty, students, and communities across the state, I am confident that the best is yet to come."