The National Institute of Health recently awarded Weill Cornell Medicine’s Clinical and Translational Science Center a $45.3 million grant, which will fund multi-disciplinary research through 2022, Cornell said.
The CTSC, which received the first of these kinds of grants in 2007, wrote the grant according to government agency rules. Among these requirements was a call for multi-institutional collaboration that fosters innovative translational research.
Harboring the expertise of various research establishments, the CTSC represents a consortium composed of partners in Ithaca, as well as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hospital for Special Surgery and Hunter College’s Center for Translational and Basic Research and its School of Nursing, among other partners.
“Our big mission for this grant is to promote creativity and entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Julianne Imperato-McGinley, program director and principal investigator of the Clinical and Translational Science Center and associate dean for translational research and education. “There are a lot of innovative things that are being designed and will be developed.”
“We want to try to teach creativity to try to come up with novel, innovative ideas,” she said. “A lot of this has to do with our continuing relationship with the state campus — Cornell Ithaca — and its engineering department.”
The new source of funding will be channeled into inter-institutional pilot grants issued by the CTSC, which considers Cornell University a separate establishment that plays an integral role in its ongoing and planned projects.
“If we have an idea, we try to connect with the engineers up there,” Imperato-McGinley said. “They have to be of different disciplines, so an endocrinologist here cannot work with an endocrinologist in Ithaca, and that is probably the thing that inspires creativity.”
The previous grants received by the CTSC allowed it to evolve its groundwork as a body of research groups that come from various disciplines and cultures, Imperato-McGinley said.
In an effort to increase inter-campus collaboration through funding, the CTSC offers services that encourage members of the Cornell community in Ithaca to become more immersed in translational medicine.
“We are trying to instill in everyone — Ph.D.s and M.D.s — that this is a team initiative and it requires learning about a lot of things and it requires a lot of team collaboration,” Imperato-McGinley said.
The CTSC’s projects include putting on seminars, teaching grant writing, teaching how to write winning publications, and seminars about how to work with the FDA and how to be a good mentor. This endeavor to build a research community grounded on cooperation is “what the NIH likes about us,” Imperato-McGinley said.
“If we keep pushing the thinking in a creative way, there’s no reason why medicine can’t be as creative as the world of technology,” she said. “I think that translational medicine in its truest form means that you have to disrupt the system, you have to turn it upside down and something new will come of it.”