CTSA Clan Grows

to 24 with the addition of 12 lucky contestants (Molly Carnes should be happy both that U Wisc-Mad received their UL1 and that 5 of these new awards have women PIs … including Case Western, which – cool beans – now boasts a woman in the role of University President, SOM Dean, and CTSA PI):

Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio)
Emory University (Atlanta, Ga.), partnering with Morehouse School of Medicine
[no fair – Emory also lists the CDC as a partner!]
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.)
University of Chicago (Chicago, Ill.)
University of Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa)
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, Texas)
University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)
University of Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.)
Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tenn.), partnering with Meharry Medical College
Washington University (St. Louis, Mo.)
Weill Cornell Medical College (New York, N.Y.), partnering with Hunter College

Poor bastards. Road to hell and all that. I would love to see a formative evaluation essay from one or more of the current site PIs that honestly assesses how this program is doing in terms of goals originally envisioned, efficiencies gained, and meaningful benefits realized (specifically those that could not have been realized through individual funding mechanisms). I suspect the gains would lie mostly in the training/career development components, especially the degree programs, which probably would not have been launched without such a large carrot.

I have no idea how the Great Zerhouni will be able to cap this already monstrous program ($1.1+ billion over 5 years already) at 60 sites. None of the 2007 awardees seem to be A1s, so the next deadline in November will capture resubmissions from the first 2 solicitations (including, I assume, some A2s). Only 7 of the 52 planning grant recipients were funded, which leaves 45 institutions thinking they are in line for a full award … but with only 36 awards remaining to be doled out. Never mind all those who skipped the planning grant route and went right for the main event, unsuccessfully thus far, such as U Minnesota. Plus only 18 of 50 states are represented … no awards in Massachusetts, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Virginia, et al. … the 2 California sites are both northern (UCSF & UC Davis) … and so on.

Some very unhappy institutions will likely send some unhappy Congressional delegations up to Bethesda for some ‘splaining. On the other hand, the latest recipients – esp Emory, UIC, Case Western, Cornell, U Washington, & U Wisconsin – include some incredible powerhouse partnerships. Would have loved to been a fly on the wall when the applicant site & PI were selected (or left standing after significant bloodshed). Perhaps the Roadmap plan is to fund the remaining applications to cover entire states or major regions versus individual institutions and thus make 60 awards with 600 hefty subcontracts. Oy.

More importantly, the dozens of Universities working on CTSA applications who will ultimately be unsuccessful if the Consortium truly is capped at 60 are not just contributing to the rapid deforestation of the planet. They are launching new degree programs, which will need care & feeding no matter the CTSA application outcome, and hiring new faculty and staff as evidence of their commitment to the Consortium’s vision. The 52 planning grant recipients used their seed funding to do just this sort of groundwork: start new CTSA-dictated degree/training programs, build/renovate CTSA-specific space, hire new personnel specific to CTSA. What if they are not among the 60 chosen sites? Sorry guys, but thanks for busting your balls & expending precious institutional research $ to legitimatize this concept for us?

Awards for the Nov 2007 submission are tentatively scheduled for July 2008, with the next funding decisions to be made in March 2009 – in all likelihood the last awards under the Great Zerhouni. And then?



  1. PhysioProf said

    My institution has one of these things, but all I’ve ever heard about it is that it is a boatload of money.

    Have you posted previously about what the heck they are? If not, could you explain a bit?

  2. writedit said

    PhysioProf, I don’t think anyone really knows what the heck these things are. I will attempt an explanation of the vision and the reality in a separate post. When I meet with faculty and try to work the CTSA into their proposals, they are puzzled and ask what it is. I’ve stopped giving the NIH vision statement thing and simply say … $83.5 million over 5 years. Light bulbs go off – yes, they heard about the mega-award – but have no clue how the money is used.

  3. Mentorless said

    What is the, “CTSA” acronym, please?

    Clinical and Translational Science Awards

  4. whimple said

    The essence of the program is to ultimately produce “clinician scientists” whether these are MD/PhD’s or otherwise. My guess is this is huge money mostly down the rathole, but I’d be happy to be proved wrong 10 or 15 years from now.

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