U-M scientists and doctors perform some of the most advanced medical research in the world. But much of it wouldn’t be possible without the thousands of people a year who volunteer their time, health information, blood, saliva, DNA or other samples to help those researchers better understand diseases and improve health outcomes.
Now, a $53 million grant will renew U-M’s ability to support such research. The Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research has again secured a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. The five-year grant renewal will provide U-M researchers with training, tools and services necessary to speed their search for new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent disease — and to involve even more research volunteers in their work.
Members of the public can help, by joining a registry of people who are willing to be contacted when a U-M researcher needs someone like them for a study. Right now, nearly 11,000 people — including many who have particular diseases and thousands more who are generally healthy — have signed up.
Anyone can register for free at www.umclinicalstudies.org, and participation in any study is voluntary. That site also contains information about more than 420 U-M studies currently in need of volunteers.
The renewed CTSA grant will also help U-M researchers do the preliminary studies that lay the groundwork for them to bring even more research funding into Michigan.
“The award will enable MICHR to continue to accelerate discoveries toward better health by educating, funding, connecting, and supporting clinical and translational research teams across the university,” says Dr. Tom Shanley, associate dean for Clinical and Translational Research at the Medical School and director of MICHR. “We want to continue to serve as a catalytic partner for U-M researchers, so their work can result in improved health for local, national, and global communities.”
The NIH’s CTSA grants are administered by its National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, established last year to help re-engineer the research pipeline. U-M is one of 60 centers to receive such funding.
The majority of MICHR’s funding is dispersed directly to researchers in the form of funds and pilot grants, stipends for scholars and many free research management support services. In addition to federal support provided by the CTSA award, both the Medical School and the U-M Health System provide significant resources to allow MICHR to offer centralized programs and services that can reach a greater number of researchers and scholars across U-M.
This marks the second time U-M has won a CTSA grant. In the five years since the first one was awarded, MICHR has helped train researchers to carry out clinical and translational research, awarded pilot grants and provided services that have helped researchers secure an additional $222 million in grants, recruited thousands of participants to the registry, supported more than 460 U-M researchers and 250 clinical trials. It has also handled more than 23,000 visits by clinical research volunteers to four special research clinics that it operates in Ann Arbor — including one where volunteers can stay overnight for studies that require constant monitoring.
The new funding will continue and enhance this work, and help fund facilities where researchers can process and store DNA samples.
For more information about MICHR services for U-M researchers, go to www.michr.umich.edu.
Jeff Kopmanis, application programmer senior at the Center for Space Environment Modeling, College of Engineering, on his job: “I make the Web front-ends (that) make it possible for ordinary people to run these very sophisticated tools.”