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ACTS Appoints Bushra Rehman, MPA, as New Executive Director




The Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) is delighted to announce the appointment of Bushra Rehman, MPA, as our new executive director.

Ms. Rehman is a high-energy leader with executive leadership in operational management, and she is passionate about expanding opportunities for translational science collaboration, developing ACTS into the leading organization for its academic disciplines, and building alliances among ACTS and its many stakeholders.

Ms. Rehman brings regional and national experience to the position, including more than seven years as the administrative director of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program at the University of Chicago Institute for Translational Medicine (ITM) and a 2012 term co-chairing the national Administrative Key Function Committee. In addition to a two-year appointment to the CTSA Consortium Management Group and the ethics and education committees, she has also served on the external advisory boards for two other CTSA awards, all of which make her intimately familiar with the CTSA consortium and the many opportunities ahead.

“I could not be more thrilled to join the ACTS as it positions itself to have a national impact at a time when translational science could not be more critical,” Ms. Rehman said. “I’m looking forward to working with everyone to make the ACTS a vital player in the translational research arena.”

An ACTS task force conducted a rigorous national search in partnership with SmithBucklin for our new executive director. Our thanks go to the task force, which was composed of Drs. Barry Coller, Rebecca Jackson, Michael Lichtenstein, and Harry Selker; to the SmithBucklin team, which was composed of Megan Cohen and David Schmahl; and to Vetted Solutions’ Jim Zaniello. Their collaboration and partnership were instrumental in identifying, screening, and interviewing candidates.

Please join us in welcoming and supporting Ms. Rehman in accelerating our association to become a leader in translational science. Ms. Rehman can be reached at brehman@actscience.org.
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Emma Meagher, MD Given AAMC National Award for Teaching



Emma Meagher, MD, associate professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, received the Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) annual meeting in Chicago this week. AAMC honored nine individuals and one teaching hospital for their outstanding contributions to academic medicine at an awards presentation on Sunday, November 9.

“She has demonstrated characteristic enthusiasm, flare, dedication, innovation, and persistence with the mission of educating medical students in systems pharmacology and translational therapeutics,” said J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, in a AAMC statement.

“I am truly honored to be recognized by AAMC,” said Meagher. “Any contribution I have made to medical education has been as a direct result of the superlative mentoring I received, the exceptional students I have taught and the enlightened institution I have had the privilege of working in for two decades.”

The AAMC cites her extensive contributions to medical education over the last 15 years: “In 1999, Meagher redesigned the medical school’s formerly fragmented pharmacology curriculum. Her efforts resulted in a highly effective approach that ensures integrated pharmacology education across all four years of medical education at Perelman, where she serves as associate professor. Building upon her sustained enthusiasm for basic science education, Dr. Meagher employed her creativity to create, with her colleagues, ‘Case Studies in Translational Research,’ an M.D.-Ph.D. course that explores the challenges and opportunities surrounding personalized medicine, diagnostics, and devices. The course’s success provided foundational support as Dr. Meagher, with support of an NIH-funded training grant (T32) and school leadership, designed and implemented a Master of Science in translational research for medical students. Meagher also developed a global online pharmacology curriculum as part of Penn’s partnership with Coursera. She further leverages that curriculum today in her ‘flipped classroom’”

In 2005, she was also awarded Penn’s highest teaching honor, the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. And, Meagher and her colleagues at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia established a mentor-leadership training program that has trained 75 mentors since 2012.

Meagher is also well known for her research on therapeutics for dyslipidemia. She is director of translational research education of the Penn Clinical and Translational Sciences Award and also serves as associate dean for both clinical research and admissions at Perelman.

Meagher received her medical degree at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and completed her residency at Mater Hospital at University College Dublin.
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News from ACTS


Present Your Research at Translational Science 2015
Washington Update
Share Your News in ACTS Connection

Translational Science News


How NIH Hopes to Make Running Global Clinical Trials Easier for Everyone
Lawmakers Push for Increased Funding for Biomedical Research
Global Network Collaboration Between Major Translational Health Research Centers Announced
China Opens Translational Medicine Center in Shanghai
Opening Access to Info From Clinical Trials Holds Great Promise, Research Finds
Google Partners to Create Cancer Genomics Cloud Platform
Canadian Genomics Translational Program Provides C$56M in Total Funding to First Dozen Projects
UCLA Receives $11 Million Grant to Lead NIH Center of Excellence for Big Data Computing
NIH Common Fund Announces 2014 High-Risk, High-Reward Research Awardees

Grant Opportunities


Clinical Studies of Safety and Effectiveness of Orphan Products Research Project Grant (R01)
Shock Society Research Investigator Award for Early Scientists
American Academy of Sleep Medicine Young Investigator Research Forum
Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research Awards Program
NIH Invests $32M to Study 'Biomedical Big Data Explosion'


News from ACTS


Present Your Research at Translational Science 2015

Translational Science 2015, sponsored by the Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) and the American Federation for Medical Research (AFMR), will be held from Thursday, April 16 through Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. This meeting offers a variety of ways for you to share your experiences, challenges and fresh approaches with professionals from around the country.

We are now accepting abstracts for consideration from all levels of training in a number of categories, including distinct categories for education and career development.

Submit your presentation abstract to the Translational Science 2015 Abstract Submission site by Tuesday, January 20, 2015.

For more information on the 2015 Translational Science meeting, please visit the ACTS website.
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Washington Update

The 2014 midterm elections brought significant legislative and policy shifts to Capitol Hill. When the 114th Congress convenes in January, Republicans will have an expanded majority in the House of Representatives and control of the U.S. Senate. Further, many prominent lawmakers on key Committees either lost their re-election bids or are retiring from Congress. There will be noticeable levels of turnover on the Appropriations and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees next year, which should lead to some new proposals and areas of focus.

For the time being, the 113th Congress has a number of outstanding high-profile issues to resolve before adjourning. Most notably, all federal programs, including medical research agencies, are operating on a continuing appropriations resolution that is set to expire on December 11th. Both parties and both chambers have expressed an interest in finalizing appropriations for FY 2015 through some form of omnibus package. What will ultimately be resolved as the appropriations process moves forward is the fate of $600 million in additional FY 2015 funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which was proposed by the Senate earlier this year. While NIH enjoys strong bipartisan support, the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill can be a lightning-rod for politically charged policy issues that could muddle congressional efforts to secure additional FY 2015 funding.

Looking forward, it is expected that the 114th Congress will take a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Once that largely symbolic effort fails through filibuster or Presidential veto, Republicans may propose repealing individual provisions of the law through a series of coordinated and systematic votes. The amount of time and energy devoted to repealing ACA will likely influence how much effort is directed to unrelated healthcare issues.

The Republican victory should also bolster the ongoing 21st Century Cures initiative. With bipartisan support, this effort should become the premier vehicle for proposals to strengthen America’s medical research infrastructure and improve how breakthroughs are translated to innovative therapies and diagnostic tools.

There is much speculation in Washington, DC following the election; however, there is one important area where the outcome is certain. The 114th Congress will bring many new legislators to Capitol Hill and the majority of them will be unfamiliar with the value and importance of clinical and translational research and research training activities. Please advocate and educate your legislators so that they can make the appropriate decisions to benefit the community and move the medical research enterprise forward.
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Share Your News in ACTS Connection

Does your institution have news you want to share with the ACTS Connection readership? From innovative projects, star scholars and trainees, to award winning faculty, help us share the news that is important to you by submitting it through our online form. Your news may be shared on the ACTS website, and other ACTS social media sources!



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Translational Science News


How NIH Hopes to Make Running Global Clinical Trials Easier for Everyone

The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) recently launched a new website to help researchers comply with clinical trial regulations in different countries. NIAID officials say that the website, called ClinRegs, is an "online database of country-specific clinical research regulatory information designed to save time and effort in planning and implementing clinical research." Users can look up clinical data for the 12 most popular countries for clinical research, with more countries to be added in the near future. Information on clinical trials is organized by key topic areas, which lets users make side-by-side comparisons between regulations. Someone looking to compare clinical-trial regulations for India and the United States, for example, would see a brief explanation of each country's regulatory authority, the scope of that authority over pharmaceutical products, and information about the oversight of clinical trials and patient rights.

From "How NIH Hopes to Make Running Global Clinical Trials Easier for Everyone"
Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (10/29/2014) Gaffney, Alexander
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Lawmakers Push for Increased Funding for Biomedical Research

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are planning a proposal that would significantly increase federal funding for biomedical research. Aides to the senators met with industry representatives recently to discuss how to increase biomedical-research funding by $1 billion a year over 10 years, sources say. Under the proposal, Congress would direct the funds to five federal agencies as long as their appropriated funding does not fall below a certain minimum. Recent years have seen science budgets tighten, and industry estimates show that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) receives nearly 25 percent less funding than in 2003, adjusted for inflation. National concerns about Ebola have emphasized the importance of protecting against disease, says NIH Director Francis Collins. Over the past 50 years, NIH has been able to fund about one in three research-grant proposals, but that ratio has fallen to about one in six since 2003, according to Collins.

From "Lawmakers Push for Increased Funding for Biomedical Research"
Wall Street Journal (10/23/14) Peterson, Kristina; Armour, Stephanie
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Global Network Collaboration Between Major Translational Health Research Centers Announced

EATRIS ERIC, the European Infrastructure for Translational Medicine, is partnering with Therapeutic Innovation Australia, the Center for Drug and Research Development in Canada, and the U.S. National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to launch a global collaboration in translational research in medicine. The organizations will examine major hurdles in this area of research and work to develop solutions. The initiative hopes to propel research with meetings led by experts from each organization. The organizations will identify globally relevant research issues, such as high development failure rates and reproducibility of data, and work toward an approach for improving the development of new drugs and diagnostics.

From "Global Network Collaboration Between Major Translational Health Research Centers Announced"
European Drug Target Review (10/22/2014)
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China Opens Translational Medicine Center in Shanghai

The National Center for Translational Medicine in Shanghai officially opened in October. The $163 million center--which is expected to be complete in 2017--seeks to connect basic research with clinical application by bringing researchers, doctors, and patients to one location. Xiao-Fan Wang, a cancer researcher at Duke University in Durham, says that doctors in China are overworked, and because most hospitals are part of universities, the doctors also must publish research if they want to be promoted. The Shanghai center is expected to give clinicians time to focus on research. The center will recruit about 50 principal investigators and 12 scientists to focus on the development of treatments for heart disease, stroke, metabolic diseases, and cancer. The site will have 300 beds for patients and research volunteers, a biobank for hundreds of thousands of patient samples, and an 'omics' center to conduct high-throughput genome analyses. The Shanghai center will eventually have four sister institutions: a geriatrics center and a center for rare and refractory diseases in Beijing, a molecular-medicine research center in Xian, and a regenerative-medicine center in Chengdu.

From "China Opens Translational Medicine Center in Shanghai"
Nature (10/29/14) Cyranoski, David
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Opening Access to Info From Clinical Trials Holds Great Promise, Research Finds

Although many Americans are concerned about the privacy of their health data, new research suggests that there could be major benefits to drug companies sharing patient data from their clinical trials. The data, which is separated from individual patients to protect their identity, could encourage the development of new therapies. Researchers explain in the New England Journal of Medicine that there is broad interest in analyzing patient data, particularly among outside researchers who submitted study proposals and agreed to use the data only for the purpose described. Reanalyzing previously published studies "can lead to conclusions about the types of patients who should receive a given treatment that differ from the conclusions drawn by the original investigators," the study authors note. Making clinical trial data public could allow investigators to compare how different drugs affect different types of patients. Pharmaceutical companies have kept patient data from clinical trials private, but in May 2013, GlaxoSmithKline began to share data from roughly 200 clinical trials dating to 2007. Since then, 10 other companies have joined the data-sharing system.

From "Opening Access to Info From Clinical Trials Holds Great Promise, Research Finds"
NJ Spotlight (10/21/14) Kitchenman, Andrew
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Google Partners to Create Cancer Genomics Cloud Platform

Several organizations are partnering to develop a Cancer Genomics Cloud (CGC) that will provide a large-scale data repository and the computational infrastructure to conduct an unprecedented level of cancer genomics research. The partnership includes the Research at Google team, the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle, and SRA International, Inc. The $6.5 million, two-year project is funded by the National Cancer Institute and will move data collected from the Cancer Genome Atlas to Google Cloud Platform to provide easy, secure access. This will allow researchers use large amounts of genomic data without requiring access to a large local compute cluster. "The CGC will democratize access to the wealth of cancer genomics data by substantially lowering the barrier to accessing and computing over these datasets," said Dr. Ilya Shmulevich, professor at ISB and CGC prime investigator.

From "Google Partners to Create Cancer Genomics Cloud Platform"
HIT Consultant (10/16/14) Pennic, Fred
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Canadian Genomics Translational Program Provides C$56M in Total Funding to First Dozen Projects

A total of C$56 million in funding has been announced by the Canadian government for the first 12 projects under Genome Canada's Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP). Investments worth C$15 million come from the government via Genome Canada, while the remaining C$41 million comes from co-funding partners, including users of the genomics methods being funded. The GAPP funding was divided into two rounds, with five projects receiving funding in the first round and seven projects being funded in the second round. A first-round project called "Development of Low-Cost Diagnostic Platform for Infectious Disease Testing" is receiving C$6 million in total funding. Another project, titled "Fighting Heart Failure: Cardiovascular Biomarker Translation Program," is receiving C$5.9 million. GAPP was unveiled a year ago to connect academic researchers to genomics users in order to speed up the commercialization of genomics technologies and stimulate investment from private and public partners. Genome Canada also announced a partnership with Mitacs to provide training to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who will be placed within industry through GAPP initiatives.

From "Canadian Genomics Translational Program Provides C$56M in Total Funding to First Dozen Projects"
GenomeWeb News (10/15/2014)
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UCLA Receives $11 Million Grant to Lead NIH Center of Excellence for Big Data Computing

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $11 million to UCLA to create a Center of Excellence for Big Data Computing that will develop new strategies for mining and understanding complex biomedical data sets. UCLA will be one of 11 centers nationwide to create analytic tools to address the challenges for researchers in accessing, standardizing, and sharing scientific data that could lead to new medical discoveries. UCLA will focus on creating and testing cloud-based tools to analyze data about protein markers that have been linked to cardiovascular disease. According to Peipei Ping, the UCLA center's principal investigator, a long-term goal for the center is to standardize patient data to allow a health care provider to retrieve all of a person's medical records at once, instead of trying to gather fragmented data from multiple sources.

From "UCLA Receives $11 Million Grant to Lead NIH Center of Excellence for Big Data Computing"
UCLA Newsroom (CA) (10/09/14) Schmidt, Elaine
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NIH Common Fund Announces 2014 High-Risk, High-Reward Research Awardees

The High Risk-High Reward program, supported by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) Common Fund, has awarded 85 grants to scientists with innovative proposals for current challenges in biomedical research this year. NIH Pioneer, New Innovator, Transformative Research, and Early Independence awards encourage the pursuit of innovative ideas in biomedical and behavioral research. This year, NIH has awarded 10 Pioneer awards, 50 New Innovator awards, eight Transformative Research awards, and 17 Early Independence awards, with total funding amounting to approximately $141 million. "Supporting innovative investigators with the potential to transform scientific fields is a critical element of our mission," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins. "This program allows researchers to propose highly creative research projects across a broad range of biomedical and behavioral research areas that involve inherent risk but have the potential to lead to dramatic breakthroughs."

From "NIH Common Fund Announces 2014 High-Risk, High-Reward Research Awardees"
NIH News (10/06/14)
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Grant Opportunities


Clinical Studies of Safety and Effectiveness of Orphan Products Research Project Grant (R01)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced the Clinical Studies of Safety and Effectiveness of Orphan Products Research Project Grant (R01). The grant program aims to support the clinical development of products for use in rare diseases or conditions where no current therapy exists or where the product being developed will be superior to the existing treatment. Grants are provided for clinical studies on safety and/or effectiveness that will result in, or substantially contribute to, market approval of these products. Phase 1 studies are eligible for grants of up to $250,000 per year for up to three years, while Phase 2 and 3 studies are eligible for grants of up to $500,000 per year for up to four years. Applications are due by Feb. 4, 2015.

From "Clinical Studies of Safety and Effectiveness of Orphan Products Research Project Grant (R01)"
NIH Grants (10/31/14)
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Shock Society Research Investigator Award for Early Scientists

The Shock Society has announced a new award, the Research Investigator Award for Early Scientists. This award aims to support new research in the areas of trauma, shock, and sepsis to be performed by early scientists, specifically post-doctoral fellows or residents/clinical fellows. Proposals should focus on developing new knowledge related to the biology of trauma, shock, or sepsis, and proposals that might include translational research and clinical applications are encouraged. The Shock Society is offering $22,000 over two years. Applications are due by April 1, 2015.

From "Shock Society Research Investigator Award for Early Scientists"
Shock Society (10/31/14)
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American Academy of Sleep Medicine Young Investigator Research Forum

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has announced its seventh Young Investigator Research Forum, to be held April 8-10, 2015, in Rockville, Md. Noting the projected future shortage of clinical sleep researchers, as well as the difficulty of obtaining research funding, the forum aims to further the career development of promising young investigators in area of clinical and translational sleep medicine research. A total of 20 young investigators--including clinical fellows, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty--will be selected, with travel and lodging expenses paid up to $1,200 per person. Applications for the awards are due by Dec. 8, 2014.

From "American Academy of Sleep Medicine Young Investigator Research Forum"
American Academy of Sleep Medicine (10/31/14)
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Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research Awards Program

The Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research is accepting applications for the Kimmel Scholar Award and the Kimmel Translational Science Award. For the Scholar Award, the foundation will provide up to 10 recipients with $100,00 per year for two years. The foundation is seeking accomplished young investigators dedicated to cancer research. Qualified applicants must have an M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent graduate degree and must perform research in a U.S. not-for-profit institution during the grant period. The awards are intended for researchers who do not yet have their own R01 funding. Meanwhile, the foundation will also make up to five additional awards for physicians engaged in translational science. Applicants must not hold R01 funding for the lab component of their cancer research, and they must show significant involvement in lab portion of the translational project they describe. Applications for both awards are due by Dec. 3, 2014.

From "Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research Awards Program"
Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research (10/31/14)
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NIH Invests $32M to Study 'Biomedical Big Data Explosion'

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is providing $32 million in grants to help U.S. researchers analyze and use "the explosion of increasingly complex biomedical data sets." Due to advancements in DNA sequencing and imaging, the amount of biomedical data available is now growing faster than researchers can use it. The NIH awards will support new approaches, software, tools, and training programs to will help improve access to the data and speed up their use in scientific discoveries. Such discoveries may include an improved ability to predict patients at increased risk for breast cancer and heart disease, and more effective ways to treat and prevent these diseases. The NIH funding will help establish 12 centers that will each take on a specific challenge in data science. The grants also will support a consortium to encourage a cooperative approach to the development of a data discovery index and the training of researchers who will specialize in data science fields.

From "NIH Invests $32M to Study 'Biomedical Big Data Explosion'"
MedCity News (10/09/14) Verel, Dan
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