Kansas University Medical Center is the recipient of a nearly $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help develop scientific discoveries into treatments and cures, according to a statement released Tuesday.
The five-year, $19.8 million grant is a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH, which puts KUMC in a 60-member group of universities collaborating on this type of research.
With the grant, KUMC will create a program called Frontiers, which will expand its existing Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.
The grant’s principal investigators — Richard J. Barohn, chairman of the KUMC department of neurology, and Lauren S. Aaronson, professor in the KU School of Nursing and department of health policy and management — worked for years to develop programs and forge partnerships that led to the successful grant application.
“We are excited to get to work,” on the many projects associated with the grant, Barohn said.
KUMC brought together several partners on the grant, including KU’s Lawrence and Wichita campuses, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, along with several hospitals in Kansas and Missouri.
The grant is designed to help generate more clinical and translational research across the country, the investigators said. It will take two main forms:
• The grant will provide infrastructure for scientists participating in research now, everything from additional staff to bricks and mortar for lab space.
• It will provide education and training for scientists interested in pursuing clinical and translational research opportunities. The grant funds would pay for up to 75 percent of these researchers’ salaries, freeing them from teaching and clinical obligations.
“It’s a recognition that people weren’t going into this research as much as we would like,” Aaronson said.
Clinical and translational research can take the form of helping a drug move from the lab to the bedside, or helping educate a community about new scientific knowledge about the effects of high blood pressure, the researchers said.
Though the money will be given initially to KUMC, a committee with representatives from KU, UMKC and KCUMB will distribute the funds on a merit-based system from applications, Barohn said.
Eight faculty members have been accepted for the education and training portion of the grant, which will begin next month.
Most of the new Frontiers operations will be conducted at the new KU Clinical Research Center in Fairway, which is set to near the end of this year. That building is funded in part by the Johnson County Research Triangle sales tax.