The Six Pillars of the CTSI

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You’ve heard this before: “Connect. Learn. Get Help. The CTSI helps research teams work faster and better.” But do you know exactly how we help? In order to better communicate what we do and how we do it, and also to help create a more accountable management structure, the CTSI is moving toward an organization based on six “pillars” – organizational components that group our programs and new initiatives into logical categories.

Here’s the quick version: Since its inception, the CTSI has provided (1) research education to help people learn to do research; (2) pilot funds to jump start new research projects and programs; (3) a place to do research – the Clinical Research Center – and a professional team to support it; (4) connections to collaborators and expertise to accelerate and enrich research programs. Going forward, the CTSI will also devote increased attention to two domains where Rochester has unusual strength: (5) support for research to understand the impacts of health care reform and other policy changes on population health; and (6) support for research into innovative methods and technologies to bring the practice of clinical trials into the 21st century.

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Now that you have the gist of it, here are a few more details:

  1.  Research education. Programs include our KL2 career development program, our TL1 predoctoral training program, our PhD program in Translational Biomedical Science, non-degree programs such as our week-long Academic Core Curriculum for junior faculty, our Mentor Development Program, and others.
  2. Funding Programs. The CTSI provides financial support to research teams to help them get new ideas off the ground. Programs include the Voucher Program, a small project funding mechanism that provides access to expertise in biostatistics or access to core facilities; the Clinical and Translational Pilot Program which funds year-long pilot research projects through a competitive application process; and the Incubator Program, a “super-pilot” mechanism that provides two years of funding for especially meritorious projects that show promise of establishing innovative multidisciplinary research programs.
  3. Clinical Research Center. The CRC, formerly one of the first funded General Clinical Research Centers in the country, forms the nucleus of this pillar. Now part of the CTSI, it provides a convenient place, and skilled nursing, nutrition and research coordination staff, to support all types of clinical research.
  4. Research Collaborations and Services. Through this pillar, the CTSI provides direct support for research teams in three ways. First, it provides specialized research services directly to investigators, such as expertise and tools in recruitment and retention of volunteer research subjects, support for FDA regulatory filings, and others. Second, it links research teams to other research services and resources across the University and elsewhere through the Research Navigator Program, which among other things supports a “research help desk” providing a concierge-like service to researchers that need specific tools or expertise to support their work. Third, it supports and drives new research collaborations by linking investigators with complementary interests, through partnerships with other institutions through the UNYTE Network of research institutions in Upstate New York, and through supportive networks such as as the Greater Rochester Practice-Based Research Network.
  5. Population Health. The CTSI is extraordinarily well-positioned to support research that seeks to understand the impacts of policy changes on population health because it is part of an institution that is the largest health care provider in a diverse urban/suburban/rural region, is the largest employer in the region, and provides an academic home for some of the nation’s top researchers in population health, health services and comparative effectiveness, and biomedical informatics. With extraordinary access to and understanding of a wealth of population health data, the CTSI will be instrumental in developing, testing and assessing policies that improve population health.
  6. Clinical Trials Methods and Technologies. The theory and practice of clinical trials have not kept pace with changes in health care practice and in technology. New methods and technologies must be developed for clinical trials to improve efficiency and timeliness, and produce results relevant to the modern day. The CTSI, in partnership with some of the world’s foremost clinical trials experts at the University of Rochester and at other like-minded CTSA institutions, will bring clinical trial methods into the 21st century.

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