MISSOULA – A new, five-year, $20.3 million grant announced Sept. 18 from the National Institutes of Health will create a health research network of 13 universities across the West.
Called the Clinical Translational Research Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN), the organization will expand the capacity of partner institutions across seven states to put clinical research into practice to address regional health concerns, including access to care, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular and infectious diseases.
The University of Montana is a member institution. Curtis Noonan, a UM associate professor of epidemiology, directs the CTR-IN Pilot Grants Program.
“CTR-IN provides pilot funding, as well as mentorship and other research support, for investigators at UM,” Noonan said. “The Pilot Grants Program is one of the key component activities of the new research network.”
In recent months researchers from CTR-IN partner institutions participated in a highly competitive pilot grant application process at 11 eligible institutions. Of the six pilot grants that will be funded in the initial round, two $75,000 awards went to UM researchers.
One of the awardees, Blakely Brown in the Department of Health and Human Performance, will test an after-school nutrition and exercise intervention program. The second investigator, Luke Conway in the Department of Psychology, will study novel strategies to improve the efficacy of motivational interviewing to help people to quit smoking.
Other CTR-IN opportunities that will be made available to UM researchers will include mini-sabbaticals, biostatistical support, mentorship, educational opportunities and linkages to clinical researchers at three medical schools within the Mountain West Research Consortium. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas also will host a virtual clinical translational science center tailored to the needs of the partner institutions.
“The CTR-IN award demonstrates the growth of clinical and translational research at UM and the promise of such research for providing economic benefit to Missoula and the state,” said Scott Whittenburg, UM vice president for research and creative scholarship. “The award is further evidence of the strength of the UM College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, which is consistently near the top of national rankings.”
Other faculty members working with CTR-IN at UM are Craig Molgaard in the School of Public Health and Community Sciences, who will contribute education and mentoring activities, and Solomon Harrar of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, who will team with biostatisticians to support pilot grant researchers.
Grant funding comes from the NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program. IDeA grants are intended to enhance the caliber of scientific faculty at research institutions in historically underfunded IDeA-eligible states, thereby attracting more promising faculty and students. The CTR-IN will further this goal among the partnering universities.
The partner universities are UM; UNLV; the University of Nevada, Reno (through the University of Nevada School of Medicine); the University of Alaska, Anchorage; the University of Alaska, Fairbanks; the University of Hawaii at Manoa; Boise State University; Idaho State University; the University of Idaho; Montana State University; the University of New Mexico; New Mexico State University; and the University of Wyoming.
UNLV will coordinate the grant through its School of Allied Health Sciences. Each of the member institutions will provide administrative, personnel and infrastructure support.
Western Montana, Dailies