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NIH grant is a "game-changer" for translational research at Geisel

Geisel researchers and clinicians—such as neonatologist Juliette Madan (left), epidemiologist Margaret Karagas (center), and bioinformatics expert Jason Moore—are already known for their willingness to work together to translate discoveries to patients and communities. A new grant from the NIH will help increase and accelerate these collaborations across disciplines.

Dartmouth has been awarded $18 million by the National Institutes of Health's highly competitive Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, joining an elite group of U.S. research universities conducting translational research.

The five-year grant will be matched with an additional $20 million from Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system, for a total investment of $38 million in translational science at Dartmouth College, the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt.

Translational research brings laboratory discoveries to clinical practice, transforming scientific and therapeutic breakthroughs into new treatments and cures and improved health outcomes.

"This $38-million public and institutional investment is a game-changer for Dartmouth," says Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon (D'77). "It will transform Dartmouth's capacity to innovate and produce research that makes a difference in people's health and lives."

The grant was announced in early October by the NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Dartmouth is one of 15 leading research institutions nationally receiving awards. The funding will support health-care innovation at Dartmouth and accelerate the development of new treatments using the power of data, emerging technologies, and collaboration across disciplines, schools, and institutions.

"This award recognizes our established strengths in life sciences and health outcomes research, while providing significant resources to dramatically increase the impact of our research on population health," says Alan Green, the grant's principal investigator and director of Dartmouth SYNERGY: The Dartmouth Clinical and Translational Science Institute, which was launched in 2010. Green is also chair of Geisel's Department of Psychiatry.

"As the pace of scientific discovery has accelerated in recent decades, the need for an efficient system of translating that knowledge into real-world applications has also increased," Green adds. "People want to know that publically funded research produces tangible benefits. Translational scientists at SYNERGY, often working in multidisciplinary teams, are changing the landscape for biomedical research so that research findings can be quickly leveraged into new treatments, more effective ways of delivering care, and exciting approaches targeting disease prevention and health resilience."

With the award, Dartmouth becomes the first institution in northern New England to join the CTSA consortium, a nationally prominent network of about 60 medical research institutions in 30 states and the District of Columbia. The greater Boston area CTSA consortium members include Harvard University, Boston University, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine already have a long history of fostering collaboration. SYNERGY, for example, brings together a wide range of scholars, researchers, and clinicians from the Medical School, the Tuck School of Business, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth's Arts and Sciences departments, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the White River Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science.

This NIH award will have a truly transformational impact on our research and education programs.

SYNERGY collaborators at Dartmouth work to accelerate the process of turning laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage community partners in clinical research efforts, and educate and train new clinical and translational researchers.

"Along with the construction of the new Williamson Translational Research Building, opening in 2015, this NIH award will have a truly transformational impact on our research and education programs," says Geisel Dean Chip Souba. "Our Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute will help us build our signature research programs, accelerate the translation of discoveries from bench to bedside and bedside to community, and develop a strong pipeline of emerging clinical and translational researchers."

Dartmouth SYNERGY—and many researchers and physicians involved in translational research—will eventually be based in the Williamson Translational Research Building, which will be located on the Geisel School of Medicine's Lebanon campus. Construction of the building was approved by Dartmouth's Board of Trustees in 2012, and the building is scheduled to open in 2015.

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Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College