Buffalo Translational Consortium News

CTSI Mentored Career Development Award goes to Jason Davies

Posted on 04/03/17 at 09:42 am
Jason Davies, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Informatics

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) announced the presentation of a new Buffalo Translational Consortium (BTC) Mentored Career Development Award in March.

Jason Davies, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Informatics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, will be researching better ways to predict who is most likely to have a stroke, and who is most likely to recover.

Since strokes have many causes and people are individually very different from one another, it’s difficult to know how much at risk any particular person might be. Davies’ project is designed to develop personalized risk predictions based on the combination of genetics and rich demographic, clinical and social data gleaned from electronic health records. All of these factors will be combined using artificial intelligence techniques to create new predictive models. If shown to be effective, these models could then be used to improve clinical practices and guide future health care policies based on constellations of risk factors that better represent individual patient risk.

Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY distinguished professor and senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is the program lead of the CTSI Mentored Career Development Award Program. “Dr. Davies’ stellar training in neurological surgery and stroke -- combined with the expert guidance of outstanding mentors and the resources provided by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute -- will synergize his unique and novel research on personalized risk predictions for stroke,” she said.

Davies received his MD and PhD at Stanford University and was a resident in the University of California San Francisco Department of Neurological Surgery program. He joined University at Buffalo Neurosurgery as a fellow in 2015 and was named assistant professor in neurosurgery a year later.

The CTSI Mentored Career Development Award programs provide junior faculty with research and professional development mentoring under the guidance of experienced mentors to help their transition into independently funded clinical and translational investigators. BTC scholars receive support through the BTC to cover partial salary and research, tuition and travel costs for up to two years, as they submit for individual K or R awards.

Preference for funding awards is given to research that brings novel approaches towards reducing health disparities in clinical populations and applicants with experiences or attributes, which increase diversity in the clinical and translational workforce. Those goals align with the overall aims of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), which serves as the hub of the BTC.

More information about education and training in clinical and translational research can be found here.

The BTC award is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers UL1TR001412 to the University at Buffalo. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Clinical Research Office launches CTSI Research Round Table series

Posted on 03/07/17 at 02:59 pm

The University at Buffalo Clinical Research Office (CRO) and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) will begin hosting a bimonthly Research Round Table series at the end of March.

Organized by Jennifer Delmerico and Jami Radtke, the CTSI’s two clinical research facilitators in the CRO, each round table discussion will focus on a topic germane to the research interests of Buffalo Translational Consortium (BTC) investigators while providing an opportunity for open-ended conversation between the guest speaker and attendees.

The first round table, i2b2 for Feasibility and Recruitment, is scheduled for Thursday, March 23 at 3 p.m. in Room 5002 of the CTRC. The guest speaker is Senior Institute for Healthcare Informatics Database Architect Jonathan Blaisure who will be talking about the i2b2 database and dashboard that he helped design.

Register here for the first Research Round Table on March 23.

“The idea is to present important information in an informal setting,” says Delmerico. “We’re hoping to start conversations and help people from across the BTC learn new things and make new connections.”

The round table discussions revive a popular series administered by the CRO that was discontinued several years ago.

Said Radtke: “The hour-long format will be divided between a brief presentation by an invited guest speaker on the topic at hand, followed by a free-form, question-and-answer discussion period.”

Topics under consideration for future round tables include clinical trial recruitment strategies, IRB compliance, Click Basics and ClinicalTrials.gov registration. (Email us below with your requests.)

The i2b2 database provides a powerful new tool to clinical research teams in the BTC for accessing the de-identified electronic health records (EHRs) of some 700,000 UBMD patients. The IHI’s Jon Blaisure will provide a demonstration of how to use the i2b2 dashboard for feasibility studies and recruitment at the inaugural CTSI Research Round Table on March 23. Delmerico and Radtke will be on hand to show researchers how to incorporate i2b2 data into study protocols and IRB submissions, and how to adhere to recruitment policy and best practices.

The remainder of the session will be given over to participants: answering their questions and discussing the issues they want to talk about.

If you can’t make it to the first Round Table at the CTRC in March, don’t worry. They will be presenting follow-up i2b2 demonstrations in May and July at locations to be determined on both the north and south campuses.

CTSI Research Round Table

  • Selected topics relevant to biomedical investigators and research coordinators
  • Opportunity for Q&A and open discussion
  • Meets the last Thursday of the month, every other month
  • Bring your questions, concerns and ideas

March 23 Round Table Session: i2b2 for Feasibility and Recruitment, CTRC room 5002, from 3 to 4 p.m.

Questions or suggestions for future round table topics? Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Research reported in this program was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number UL1TR001412 to the University at Buffalo. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Building bridges a key element of Drug Development Core mission

Posted on 03/07/17 at 11:40 am
Gene Morse, PharmD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is the core’s director.

The main objective of the University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Drug Development Core is to foster innovation in drug development and clinical therapeutics research. While providing expert mentoring for researchers from the Buffalo Translational Consortium, the core also collaborates with industry partners, arranges access to CTSI core laboratory facilities that specialize in drug development and help investigators prepare top-flight grant applications and cutting-edge research protocols.

Those are some of the specific services provided by the core’s faculty and staff. But, in a larger sense, they see their mission as building bridges between disciplines, institutions and individuals.

“The Drug Development Core is a mechanism to bring together different faculty and different key resources that exist across UB and partner institutions in order to assist investigators who are interested in any aspect of drug development research,” says Gene Morse, PharmD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the core’s director.

“More than just a laboratory that people have access to, or assistance in submitting a grant, it’s developing a mechanism so that faculty are aware of the different resources that exist at UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, so their grant applications can be even stronger and they can build new collaborations. People who may be used to working independently can begin working together.”

Since August, the Drug Development Core has been accepting service requests from researchers and potential researchers via the on-line Service Request Portal.  By clicking on the “Request a CTSA Service” button on the Clinical and Translational Research homepage, researchers, trainees and staff interested in CTSI services can create an account and access a menu of cores, each with a list of services offered as well as a text box to provide any additional details. A representative of the CTSI core responds directly to each request.

“It’s similar to a dating service initially,” says Morse. “You’d be surprised how many people are not aware of the number of researchers and the wealth of lab facilities that exist outside their own departments.”

The Drug Development Core Request Form is the first step for Buffalo Translation Consortium (BTC) researchers and research coordinators looking for help with: grant consultations; protocols, assays and data analysis; preclinical pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics; and phase I and II clinical pharmacology design, conduct and management. The core also has an educational mission, providing one-month scholar periods for external CTSA faculty members at BTC institutions. Key drug development topics are presented in a workshop format throughout the academic year, while “Community of Scholars” sessions present topics in drug development and translational pharmacology.

UB has a wealth of resources for investigators in terms of infrastructure and human capital scattered among a number of schools, departments and centers, and Roswell Park has a distinct and complementary set of resources.

Morse says there have always been individual faculty collaborations on an ad hoc basis but what’s new with the granting of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) is the commitment of UB and Roswell Park to sharing resources and forging new bonds of cooperation.

Other cores at Roswell Park and UB’s CTSI can be involved in drug development. The Drug Development Core acts as a hub for coordinating all of that activity. “We’re working together to make all of these things more available and accessible, and to foster collaboration,” says Morse. He’s also working with UB’s MD PhD program to “assist PhD and post-doc trainees in utilizing the Drug Development Core to identify additional research mentors and new laboratory cores that can enhance innovation in their research.”

“It’s a broad mechanism of bringing everybody together,” he says. “I have a personal interest in helping UB to have this resource because I know what the individual needs of faculty trying to do clinical research are, because of my experience in drug development,” he says. “I have a good sense of the types of core resources that you need, depending on whether you’re in pre-clinical phase one, two, three or four. I think all of those different experiences came together in the Drug Development Core.”

Some of UB and Roswell Park’s most prominent researchers are contributing to the leadership of the Drug Development Core. These include: William J. Jusko PhD; Ravindra Pandey PhD; Kunle Odunsi, MD PhD; Igor Puzanov, MD; and Robert Bies, PharmD, PhD.

Through multiple international initiatives -- as principal investigator for the NIH Fogarty International Center HIV Research Training Program with the University of Zimbabwe, as director of UB’s Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences and co-director of SUNY’s Global Health Institute – Morse is helping to bring the accelerated translational research model across literal, not just metaphorical, borders.

The kind of institutional support for cross-disciplinary and multi-site collaborations he’s seeing locally is something that “hasn’t happened in the past, and doesn’t happen in a lot of places.” 

Renowned influenza vaccine expert kicks off CTSI 2017 Seminar Series

Posted on 02/17/17 at 02:03 pm
Arnold S. Monto, MD

An illustrious researcher in the field of infectious disease epidemiology was the guest speaker at the inaugural Clinical and Translational Science Institute 2017 Seminar Series on Feb. 10 in Farber Hall on UB’s South Campus. A standing-room-only crowd in the 105-seat lecture hall welcomed Arnold S. Monto, MD, to town for the seminar, co-sponsored by the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions and the CTSI.

Monto is the Thomas Francis Jr. Collegiate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, where he has conducted research into the occurrence, etiology and prevention of infectious diseases, nationally and globally, since 1965. Monto was instrumental in establishing the theory of “community immunity” thanks to a ground-breaking 1968 study. Nearly 85 percent of schoolchildren in a Michigan town were vaccinated, leading to a profound decrease in flu cases among all age groups. Vaccine firewalls continue to be a part of strategies to control influenza and other infectious diseases worldwide. 

His most intensive scholarly focus has been on the epidemiology of influenza, in particular vaccine strategies to prevent seasonal and pandemic flu, which was the topic of his talk in Buffalo. Tracing a body of work in the area of influenza vaccines stretching back to 1943, Monto described the current constitution of the FDA- and WHO-recommended seasonal flu vaccine and the rationale behind its bi-annual reformulation (once in the fall for the northern hemisphere and again in the spring for the southern hemisphere). Monto outlined the challenges associated with not only predicting and targeting the rapidly mutating strains of the virus, but also tracking the effectiveness of the yearly vaccines. He also discussed the history of research into live attenuated vaccines, versus the inactivated vaccines currently in usage, and the prospects for a “universal,” one-shot, permanent influenza vaccine – which, he said, appears increasingly remote.

The next speaker in the CTSI series will be Peggy Compton, PhD, RN, associate professor in the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Department of Family and Community Health, on Friday, March 31, at 8:30 a.m. in 403 Hayes Hall on the UB South Campus. Her research explores pain, opioid addiction and the phenomenology of addiction, and she is clinically expert in detecting opiate abuse. Co-sponsored by the CTSI and the UB School of Nursing, the title of Compton’s seminar is “Translational Research in Opioid Use Disorder and Chronic Pain.”

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