Data Science News

NIH provides $23 million for statewide translational research institute

Josh Barney
March 12, 2019

The National Institutes of Health have awarded the integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia a five-year grant of nearly $23 million to advance innovative ideas from the point of discovery to implementation in clinical practice and population health.

iTHRIV includes the University of Virginia, Inova Health System, Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic as partners, with the Center for Open Science and UVA’s Licensing & Ventures Group as affiliates. The focus of iTHRIV is “using data to improve health” and leverages data science expertise from across the state.  

About the Partnership

As individual institutions, the partners each have established strengths in biomedical and health-related research. Though individual programs have invested in maximizing research success, iTHRIV is the first cross-state effort in Virginia to integrate broad clinical and translational research resources and processes for a transformative benefit.

Translational research is the process of applying knowledge from basic biology and clinical trials to improve health outcomes for patients. Each partner brings resources and expertise in doing research with patients in areas of greatest need. The overarching goal of iTHRIV is to support research that benefits Virginia’s rural and urban populations by optimizing the use of data science.

The NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, supported by the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, provides resources for researchers across the statewide consortium, trains the next generation of biomedical and health scientists and collaborates with community partners to improve health. The national Clinical and Translational Science Awards network includes approximately 60 institutions around the country that are recognized as elite clinical and translational research institutions.

iTHRIV partnership of Johnston and Brown
Neurologist Dr. Karen Johnston, left, and data scientist Don Brown are among the grant’s principal investigators. (Photos by Dan Addison, University Communications, left; and Tom Cogill, right)

Powerful Collaboration

iTHRIV brings together distinctly different areas of expertise, including translational research, clinical research and data science, and its multi-principal investigator leadership reflects this design, including UVA’s Dr. Karen C. Johnston, an expert in clinical trials and a neurologist who specializes in caring for patients with acute stroke; and Donald E. Brown, a data scientist and systems engineer who was the founding director of the UVA Data Science Institute.

Leadership from Virginia Tech and Carilion includes Warren Bickel, co-director of Virginia Tech-Carilion’s Center for Transformative Research in Health Behaviors; Dr. Paul Skolnik, chair of the Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine and Carilion’s Department of Internal Medicine; Michael J. Friedlander, Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology and executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech-Carilion ; Audra Van Wart, assistant vice president for health sciences education at Virginia Tech; and Kathy Hosig, director of the Virginia Tech Center for Public Health Practice and Research in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. 

At Inova, Dr. John Niederhuber, CEO of the Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute, leads the program. 

A ‘Pipeline of Innovation’

“We are very grateful for the NIH funding to support this pipeline of innovation,” said Dr. Richard P. Shannon, UVA’s executive vice president for health affairs. “We are extremely excited about the potential of this statewide collaboration to accelerate the development of new treatments and improve the health of people across the commonwealth and beyond.”

“We’re delighted to be part of this transformative initiative in translational and clinical research,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said. “This partnership advances our biomedical health and sciences enterprise, expands our ongoing collaboration with Carilion Clinic, and strengthens our connections with colleagues across the commonwealth at the University of Virginia and Inova in a way that will benefit the health of all Virginians.”

“This grant is an indication of the innovative research happening right here in Virginia,” Carilion President and CEO Nancy Howell Agee said. “It is an investment that will improve lives across the commonwealth, and we are excited to join our partners and peers in discovery.”

“Translational research is essential to the development of new medical treatments that address currently unmet patient needs. By nurturing the translational research enterprise in Virginia, this grant to iTHRIV will help our researchers work together more effectively to make tomorrow’s breakthroughs,” said Dr. Mickey Y. Kim, senior vice president of research and commercialization and the head of Inova Translational Medicine Institute.

About the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program

The national Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, which now includes iTHRIV, enables research teams, including scientists, patient advocacy organizations and community members, to tackle significant scientific and operational problems in clinical and translational research that no one team can overcome. The program’s goals:

  • Train and nurture the clinical and translational science workforce.
  • Engage patients and communities in every phase of the translational process.
  • Promote the integration of special and underserved populations in translational research across the human lifespan.
  • Innovate processes to improve the quality and efficiency of translational research.
  • Advance the use of cutting-edge informatics and data science to improve the health of communities.

The NIH award consists of grants 1 UL1 TR003015-0 and 1 KL2 TR003016-01. For information about the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, click here. For more information about iTHRIV, click here