Buffalo Translational Consortium News

CTSI seeks input from Buffalo community

Posted on 10/17/17 at 11:18 am
Patient ambassadors Kathie Crocker, Pamela Harold and Deborah Hemphill (l to r)

People who participate in clinical trials are happier with their health care and have better health outcomes.

That was one of the messages from Timothy F. Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Medicine and director of UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) in his welcome to guests to the event, including representatives from area service providers, patient advocacy groups and church organizations.

About 50 community leaders attended the first-ever “Community and Research: Building Partnerships, Creating Solutions” program and luncheon co-sponsored by the CTSI and Patient Voices Network (PVN) held on September 29.

Kathleen Crocker, PVN Steering Committee member and CTSI Patient Ambassador, provided welcoming remarks and an introduction to the PVN, a community group that partners with the CTSI and health care practices to improve communication and collaboration between the community and the university when it comes to research.

“Community involvement in research is vital as it can build trust, encourage participation among under-represented groups, and enhance the relevance of research findings,” said Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD, director of the CTSI’s Community Engagement core.

One way volunteers in clinical studies benefit from their participation is through regular contact with medical professionals, said Murphy.

Laura Mangan, coordinator of the Office of the Associate Vice President for Research Advancement, UB OVPRED, moderated a panel of guest speakers provided insight into community-based research and the ethics of research.

Heidi Nieves-McGrath, RN, is research coordinator on a study that’s evaluating innovative new therapies for treating hepatitis c virus (HCV) infection among people with substance use disorders. What began as a screening program, she told the audience, has evolved into a network of treatment clinics at 12 locations across New York State, linked by teleconferencing. Researchers are evaluating the effectiveness of this “telemedicine” approach to traditional treatment plans, and so far results have been promising

Heather Ochs-Balcom, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, is principal investigator on the “Jewels in Our Genes” study, which looks at how genetics contributes to complex disease with a focus on health disparities. Presenting with her was Veronica Meadows-Ray, a patient advocate, breast cancer survivor and the inspiration for the “Jewels in Our Genes” study.

Ochs-Balcom said that her collaboration with Meadows-Ray had opened her eyes to the importance of addressing the cultural backgrounds and personal concerns of patients when planning research projects and carrying out protocols. So far, by tracking incidence of the disease in African American families that have a history of breast cancer, her study has identified two chromosomes that are potential markers of the disease.

Sarah Reilly, MPH, an Institutional Review Board administrator in the UB Office of Research Compliance, spoke on the ethics of research. She described the regulations and procedures mandated by law that universities must follow to protect patients and continue to receive funding for their research.

Importantly, the event was an opportunity for members of the local community to tell investigators what they want and need from research.  The presentations were followed by table discussions facilitated by Tumiel-Berhalter’s community engagement team and PVN steering committee members, who gathered feedback and will prepare a follow-up report and action plan for all of the attendees.

“People seemed excited to learn about Patient Voices Network and the CTSI and what we are trying to do,” said Pamela Harold, PVN Steering Committee member and CTSI patient ambassador. “It felt good to open the doors to the community and let them know what we do.”

“We received lots of positive feedback about how to move forward, and how UB can work better with the community,” added Tumiel-Berhalter. “As a team, we are excited to keep the momentum going.”

Formed in 2010 with patients from three large urban family practices in Buffalo, Patient Voices Network is a community group that works with health care practices and biomedical investigators to guide research projects and improve approaches to recruitment and disseminating information about research.

The mission of UB’s CTSI is to improve health and reduce health disparities in the Western New York community through the development, testing and sharing of novel approaches to health care. The program is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number UL1TR001412 to the University at Buffalo.

 

Distinguished alum looks to the future of Buffalo’s academic medical center

Posted on 10/16/17 at 01:08 pm
Photo: Dylan Buyskes, Onion Studio, Inc.

James Marks, MD, MPH, a 1973 graduate of UB’s medical school and executive vice president at the Princeton-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, returned home during Alumni Weekend in October to talk about the economic impact that academic medical centers can have on a city like Buffalo.

Marks has deep roots in the community and over the course of his long career in public health has observed firsthand the mutually beneficial impact that academic medical centers can have on the health and well-being of their surrounding communities.

“Ultimately, the economic success and health of a city and the success of a university and an academic medical center located there are inextricably linked," Marks told an audience who had gathered in the Screening Room of UB’s Center for the Arts to hear the address titled, “Building a Better Future for Buffalo: Academic Medical Centers and Why They Matter.” Medical centers which teach the next generation of physicians are in tune with the latest therapeutics and their research programs put them at the cutting-edge of advances in health care, he said.

Right now, UB’s new medical school building is the largest medical education building under construction in the nation, and the new Oishei Children’s Hospital will open in November. More and more research is being conducted on the campus, by both the public and private sectors, and more research dollars are being invested here.

However, not only does the growth of the medical campus improve the quality of medical education and health outcomes in the region, Marks said, it stands to improve the overall quality of life here by bringing in good jobs, attracting more talent to the region, generating more investment in the city and fostering a renewed sense of optimism about what the Buffalo Niagara region is capable of achieving.

Linking the rise of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to the redevelopment of Buffalo’s waterfront and the resurgence of neighborhoods such as Buffalo’s Allentown, Larkinville and Elmwood Avenue corridor, he said Buffalo is threatening to become “the next cool city to live, work and play in.”

A successful “meds and eds” strategy, he said, leverages existing anchors such as Canalside and Larkinville and the medical campus to promote redevelopment in the areas between.

Making Buffalo a more vibrant and attractive community attracts even more talent and investment from around the world and, in turn, provides a foundation of support for the continuing success of the academic medical center itself. The notorious “brain drain” which has robbed Western New York of some its most talented and promising young people over the years — if not over — has at least been halted, he declared.

He praised his alma mater for its role in becoming a center of innovation and a prime mover in Buffalo’s renaissance.

In his role as executive vice president, Marks oversees all program, communications, research and policy activities in support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Culture of Health” initiative. The foundation is the nation’s largest philanthropic foundation devoted solely to improving public health.

Activity book engages children and families in research

Posted on 10/06/17 at 02:03 pm
Two pages from “Sofia Learns About Research,” a children’s activity book that aims to take the mystery out of clinical studies.

An important goal of UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is to improve the representativeness of research studies, including participants from special populations such as children, the elderly, underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and people with disabilities.

A multidisciplinary CTSI team of investigators came together this year to address one obstacle to recruiting diverse populations: negative perceptions of clinical research in the community. Their chosen approach? A children’s coloring and activity book that addresses common objections while highlighting the advantages of study participation.

 “Through conversations with community members, school nurses and other key stakeholders, we learned that many people are skeptical of researchers and often distrustful of their intentions,” said Renee Cadzow, PhD, who is assistant professor of HealthServices Administration, the director of the Center for Research on Physical Activity, Sport and Health at D’Youville College, and a community liaison/outreach specialist with CTSI’s Special Populations core. “They perceive research as minimally helpful to them and are doubtful that they will see the results of it and how they are applied.”

However, she said, they also acknowledge the importance of having broad representation in research studies, and could see the potential for getting access to needed health care resources as a result of study participation.

The book was co-written by Cadzow, an anthropologist and researcher, Alexandra Marrone, at the time a research assistant and now a UB medical student, and Teresa Quattrin, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher. The drawings are by Isabella Bannerman, an award-winning American cartoonist andgraduate of Buffalo Seminary currently based out of New York City, and the graphic design was completed by Tia Canonico, a recent graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in illustration.

Quattrin, UB Distinguished Professor and A. Conger Chair of Pediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is director of CTSI’s Special Populations core and serves on the CTSI steering committee.

“Sofia Learns About Research” presents research in a non-threatening way by telling the story of a child with asthma as she walks through the process of recruitment and participation in a clinical trial aimed at improving asthma treatment.

“In addition to the research processes that she participates in, there is also information about other types of research involving surveys, focus groups and body measurements,” Cadzow said. “Characters in the book represent numerous racial and ethnic backgrounds, and the line drawings encourage the use of the book as a coloring book.”

Pages of text are broken up by activity sheets, including a word search, maze, crossword puzzle and dot-to-dot picture. Key terms throughout the book are in bold lettering to indicate they can be found in the book’s glossary. Definitions are written in lay terms, with sensitivity to lower levels of reading, making it accessible to both children and adults, Cadzow said.

She said the children’s activity and storybook addresses a need for fun and engaging educational materials that effectively reach children while also answering questions for parents. The first wide dissemination of the book will be at the “Tricks, Treats and Discoveries: Family Fun and Learning Fair” on October 28, co-sponsored by the CTSI Community Engagement core and the Patient Voices Network. 

“There is a real need to be able to educate the public on the importance and benefit of participating in clinical studies,” says Quattrin. “We hope to adapt this idea to transmit an inclusive and culturally sensitive message not only to children, but to adults and elderly, too”. 

Davies receives KL2 Mentored Career Development Award

Posted on 09/20/17 at 01:59 pm

The UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) announced the appointment of Jason Davies, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Informatics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, to the CTSA-Linked KL2 Mentored Career Development Award (MCDA) program in August.

The KL2 award provides research mentoring and career and professional development to junior faculty in health science disciplines engaged in clinical and translational research. Davies was one of three CTSI-funded scholars eligible for the KL2 Scholar position invited to apply. 

"Having CTSI-funded scholars mentored with the KL2 cohort brings together a diverse community of scholars engaged in successful interdisciplinary research, teaching, mentoring and career development in clinical and translational research, while at the same time maintaining a critical cohort of scholars in our community,” said Margarita L.  Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguish Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and director of the CTSI's Workforce Development core and program lead for the KL2 Mentored Career Development Award.

The grant will support Davies’ research into finding better ways to predict who is most likely to have a stroke, and who is most likely to recover. His project has led to new predictive models that combine genetics and rich demographic, clinical and social data from electronic health records to develop personalized risk predictions. 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 UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) announced the appointment of Jason Davies, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Informatics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, to the CTSA-Linked KL2 Mentored Career Development Award (MCDA) program in August.
The KL2 award enhances research, and  career and professional development of junior faculty in health science disciplines engaged in clinical and translational research. Davies was one of three CTSI  funded Scholars eligible for the KL2 Scholar position  who were invited to apply. 
"Having CTSI-funded scholars mentored with the KL2 cohort brings together a diverse community of scholars engaged in successful interdisciplinary research, teaching, mentoring and career development in clinical and translational research, while at the same time maintaining a critical cohort of scholars in our community,” said Margarita L.  Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguish Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and director of the CTSI's Workforce Development core and program lead for the KL2 Mentored Career Development Award.
The grant will support Davies’ research into finding better ways to predict who is most likely to have a stroke, and who is most likely to recover. His project has led to new predictive models that combine genetics and rich demographic, clinical and social data from electronic health records to develop personalized risk predictions.
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 lat
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