CTSA Pool Picks

Update: And the winners have been announced (I have links to each site’s description here):

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University (New York City)
Boston University (Boston)
Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)
Indiana University School of Medicine (Indianapolis)
Northwestern University (Chicago and Evanston, Ill.)
The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
The Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, Calif.)
Stanford University (Palo Alto, Calif.)
Tufts University (Boston)
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, Ala.)
University of Colorado Denver (Aurora, Colo.)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (San Antonio)
The University of Utah (Salt Lake City)

And I only missed Scripps, but they have a lot of collaborating sites (including, oddly, CHOP – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia …)

Update: The roster for the CTSA SEP meeting on Feb 19-20 has been posted. The roster for the panel meeting on Feb 12-13 is available as well. Lots of anxious institutions out there, I know.

Not as complex as March Madness brackets, but I’ve been thinking about the remaining Clinical & Translational Science Award (CTSA) sites. If they stick with the 12 sites per cycle trend, that leaves just 3 submission dates, including the one in a few weeks (or 4 submission cycles if they drop back to the original intent to make 8 awards per RFA).

Keeping in mind the current Consortium sites (& their partners), we still have NCRR K12 sites that haven’t received CTSA U54s as yet. I suspect NCRR would like to get these off the books already (they make a big deal about subsuming existing award programs), and all these K12ers will almost certainly be submitting new or amended full CTSA applications. Plus, they all also have K30 and M01 awards (the K12, K30, & M01 programs are integral components of CTSA site infrastructure – hence their relevance). This would be Einstein/Yeshiva, Northwestern, UCLA, UMd, UMinn, and UNC (also a Roadmap interdisciplinary ctr) … the only the latter 3 have official Roadmap K12s, but the others are NCRR-funded clinical research scholar programs.

{UMinn in particular is no doubt counting on an award this coming round given the fact that, based on their comprehensive & highly entertaining presentation at the AAMC GRAND meeting, they were probably expecting to pop champagne corks a few weeks ago.}

We still have 45 institutions that received P20 awards to plan for a full CTSA application. Among these, UMd and UNC are listed above, which leaves 43 sites making big plans this fall, many of whom better go with the buddy system rather than apply alone if they want to be assured Consortium membership.

Among the P20 sites, several also have both a K30 and an M01 award: Georgetown (excellent chance of success), Harvard, Medical College of Wisconsin, NYU, SUNY Stony Brook, U Alabama, U Cinncinnati, U Colorado, U Florida (also a Roadmap interdisciplinary ctr), U South Florida, and U Tennessee. So 17 likely sites with multiple awards available to be subsumed.

How about just a K30 and M01? More strong candidates: Baylor (also a Roadmap interdisciplinary ctr), Boston University, Indiana U, Penn State, Tufts University, UCSD (also has Roadmap T32), UT San Antonio, U Utah (LDS Hospital is part of the Roadmap Clinical Research Network), and U Vermont. Now we’re up to 26 sites with good odds … perhaps depending in part on whether they skipped versus applied for but did not receive a CTSA P20.

Let’s see … among the other CTSA planning grant awardees, U Illinois-Chicago has a K30; MUSC has a Roadmap T32 & M01; Stanford has a Roadmap T90 & M01 (& a Roadmap U01); U Missouri has a Roadmap T90 & M01; and UNM has an M01 & Roadmap Clinical Research Network site.

That’s 31 sites with a reasonable amount going for them on paper … which eats up most of the 36 spots left at the table. Of course, not all of these sites are necessarily applying – or applying on their own. And one could argue that if the NIH wants to encourage more/new institutions to provide these comprehensive clinical research-training programs that sites other than current awardees in these areas be considered for CTSAship … but I suspect NCRR can’t afford to go that route.

So what about the institutions not yet cited that received CTSA P20s (n=32)? Most if not all of these have M01s so are on relatively equal footing in that regard. The need for geographic diversity (i.e., the need to spread the wealth to more Congressional districts) should bring sites like Dartmouth, LSU, U Arkansas, U Hawaii, U Kansas, U Kentucky or Louisville, U ND, U Oklahoma, and/or UVa into the mix. Some could even displace strong candidates listed above that are located in CTSA-laden areas (i.e., Pa, NYC, upper midwest, Texas, Calif).

My money is on institutions with established & well organized biorepositories linked with EMR (electronic medical record) and supported by solid bioinformatics … those with robust & comprehensive biostatistics capabilities (need a big stable of seasoned biostatisticians to manage the increased work load) … some more pediatric powerhouses … sites that feature genuine leadership roles outside the School of Medicine … some really creative public-private partnerships … those with excellent training track records (& the ability to attract outstanding trainees, especially minorities) … plus those institutions willing & able to put up more than a dollar-for-dollar match (it’s NPR station pledge time after all) – and real dollars, not existing space etc.

Still to come: what CTSAs can do for investigators at their institutions and beyond … and for public health in general.



  1. PhysioProf said

    Dude, you’re insane.

  2. Delenn said

    Writedit: nice, thorough analysis. Better than Vegas odds.

    PhysioProf: interesting that you assume ‘Writedit’ is a ‘dude’.

  3. bikemonkey said

    Delenn, “Dude” is in some usages becoming a gender neutral or gender universal term. I think Bill Hooker had some crack about this being the translation of “mate” for Aussies. Another term which is apparently becoming gender irrelevant.

    just a thought.

  4. Delenn said

    I found this on a .uk site discussing the ‘American/English’ meaning of the word ‘dude’: “There are many different stories surrounding the word’s origins. One such story claims that it was created by Oscar Wilde, as a combination of the words ‘dud’ and ‘attitude’. Another claims that the word was formed by cowboys in the West to refer (unfavourably) to city dwellers1. Of course, none of these possible origins change its current complex maze of meanings one whit.

    It is recommended that ‘dude’ is used by advanced slang speakers only. Any who choose to use this word do so at their own risk.

    To writedit: we digress, your analysis of the remaining CTSA award possibilities is sobering; what will the unlucky institutions do without one?

  5. writedit said

    So I actually asked Anthony Hayward about the planning award sites who might never receive full CTSA awards (never mind the no doubt dozens of institutions not named above & not among the P20 awardees who won’t have club membership). I was pleasantly surprised that he responded within half an hour of a nocturnal, very much off the clock e-mail with a thoughtful reply.

    In essence, they are hoping/assuming several of the planning grant awardees will in fact pair up for joint applications. With egos the size of the grand canyon though, I don’t think he can assume such collegiality. Hopefully the AHCs will prove me wrong. However, not everyone will make it from the minors to The Show. He didn’t mention a consolation prize.

    Still, Dr. Hayward does see non-CTSA sites collaborating with the Consortium … perhaps eventually with FOA $ attached, perhaps not. The program is still evolving, and the Consortium itself is having plenty of growing pains, never mind how to partner with the rest of the biomedical research community.

    On the other hand, nothing lasts forever, and the CTSA program itself is designed with a short lifespan per site (at most one renewal of each award – at least in theory). The, um, vision is that sites will carry on the initiatives begun under the CTSA award (& be competitive for routine NIH funding), and industry will turn to the Consortium as a dynamic, nationally representative, infrastructure-rich clinical R&D platform and thus utilize & sustain the network beyond the initial infusion of NIH cash. Dr. Hayward sees the “CTSA program [establishing] itself as the premier location for clinical research.” Truly a nice concept, which I hope pans out.

    The buzzword is “leverage” …. though I have rather low expectations for this approach based on my experience with the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health program through the US DHHS Office on Women’s Health. Centers were given poverty-level funding – ~$140K per year – to maintain 5 major components and submit ridiculously bureaucratic quarterly & annual deliverables to the govt (similar to the CTSA reporting!!) on the assumption they would be able to “leverage” their national excellence designation to open a pipeline of cash cascading in. Not.

    So, back to the unfunded CTSA wannabes. I certainly hope they used their $150K in planning funds to set up durable and genuinely useful new infrastructure that will serve their investigators well even if the big one never comes through. Such clinical research & training resources should make them more competitive for other NIH programs, foundation funding, industry contracts, etc. Again, assuming they have not focused their efforts exclusively on boutique CTSA requirements, such as an odd degree program (the CTSA-dictated PhD in “translational science”, for example, which takes a lot of work to set up & get approved) … or a fancy new suite of offices and letterhead with no actual support services for faculty researchers & students/trainees.

    And, of course, who knows what will happen when the Great Zerhouni leaves to spend more time with his family (assuming the new administration accepts his resignation with any other political appointees who haven’t fled by then).

  6. […] bien. And how cool that this amazing regional consortium was announced on the day the CTSA U54 applications were originally due … I’m guessing their application is so polished you need shades to […]

  7. […] the longevity of this program has been unclear from the start, this makes sense. Why should so many good research institutions invest so much time and effort trying to secure awards that sound essential but may not be sound […]

  8. […] under NIH Advice, Research News So, last October I had a little fun working out the logic for my office pool picks for the next CTSA sites. Today we learn that 14 new sites have joined the […]

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