Research & Economic Development

Office of the Vice Chancellor

News & Announcements

Strength of regional health collaborations at the heart of $20 million NIH grant

Posted Sep 14, 2011
UMKC joins with regional partners to advance clinical and translational research

Thanks to a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of nearly $20 million, researchers and clinicians from University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute (MAHI) will collaborate with colleagues from across the bi-state region to create a broad new multidisciplinary translational research network. The five-year grant was awarded through the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program to the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) and will be used to create a regional program called “Frontiers,” which will be administered through the Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

“The awarding of this grant is a testament to the strength of the consistent and ongoing collaborations between scientists at UMKC and our academic, clinical and research colleagues in the bi-state region,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “This opportunity to further combine all of our strengths will translate directly into discoveries and therapies that will advance and improve health care for the people of our region.”

The CTSA grant program was established by the NIH in 2006 to support the development of regional initiatives to accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, to work with and engage communities in clinical research efforts and to provide training opportunities for researchers.

“Right now, there is too often a tremendous gap between knowledge generation and clinical practice. It can take decades for patients to benefit from new research discoveries,” said John A. Spertus, M.D., Daniel J. Lauer/Missouri Endowed Chair in Metabolic and Vascular Research and Professor at the UMKC School of Medicine and Clinical Director of Outcomes Research at the Mid America Heart Institute. “This is a very important grant that will integrate clinical and community-based research across multiple disciplines.” Dr. Spertus will direct the Personalized Medicine and Outcomes Center within Frontiers.

A key component in the success of receiving the NIH award and establishing the Frontiers network is the strength and depth of personalized medicine and cardiac outcomes research being conducted by investigators at UMKC and MAHI. Recognized as one of the leading outcomes research centers in the country, including being one of only four Outcomes Centers supported by the American Heart Association, the Mid-America Heart Institute has led more than 115 clinical research trials in all aspects of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Spertus and his colleagues have pioneered methods for quantifying patients’ experience and outcomes of their disease and using these data as endpoints in clinical trials, as markers of healthcare quality and as tools in improving patient care. As part of the Frontiers network, the Mid-America Heart Institute will serve as a model for developing successful research programs in other disciplines.

“At UMKC and Saint Luke’s, we are working very hard to address our national health care crisis,” Dr. Spertus said. “This is an exciting opportunity to bring together the combined strengths and resources of the leading institutions and researchers in the region to accelerate the translation of knowledge from the bench to the bedside. This truly represents the beginning of a new era of collaboration.”

Joining UMKC, Saint Luke’s and KUMC in launching the Frontiers program are Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Kansas City, Truman Medical Center, Swope Health Services, the Center for Behavioral Medicine, Wesley Medical Center and Via Christi Health System in Wichita and the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

“Attaining this grant is recognition by NIH of the outstanding science and collaborative interactions already in place in our region. Getting this award was truly a joint team effort among institutional leaders and scientists within Frontiers,” said Richard J. Barohn, MD, chair of the KU Medical Center Department of Neurology, director of Frontiers and one of the CTSA grant principal investigators.