UNM CTSC Research
Post-doctoral fellow Jianzheng Zheng works in a lab at the UNM Clinical and Translational Science Center.
Credit: Sara Mota

The University of New Mexico’s Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) has been awarded a five-year, $23 million grant renewal by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) following a competition in which it received one of the highest scores in the nation.

The prestigious grant Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) recognizes the UNM Health Sciences Center’s success in conducting medical and health care research and developing new biotechnology in a host of areas, including infectious disease, metabolic disorders and substance abuse, said Richard S. Larson, MD, PhD, executive vice chancellor and vice chancellor for research at the Health Sciences Center.

“Research brings new drugs, technology and ways of delivering care,” Larson said. “Support from the CTSA makes possible the discoveries that will improve the health and well-being of people in our state.”

A team of more than 300 UNM researchers and support staff have led the way in recent years in developing vaccines for deadly infections like drug-resistant tuberculosis, Larson said. They currently conduct 125 clinical trials, along with extensive community-based research throughout the state.

The CTSC pools key resources to enable researchers to more efficiently design and conduct their studies. It also has an extensive mentoring program to help young scientists learn how to create new medical innovations. It also promotes team science to target complex disease like addiction, obesity and diabetes, Larson said.

The UNM Health Sciences Center first joined the prestigious Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium in 2010, becoming one of just 62 universities in the country with a program to convert basic laboratory discoveries into medical therapies and devices that make a real difference in patients’ lives.

The NIH introduced the CTSA network in 2006 to speed new drug therapies, vaccines and diagnostic tools through the developmental pipeline to rapidly move biomedical research from bench to bedside.

UNM’s CTSC grant renewal continues a string of research successes at the Health Sciences Center. In the just-ended fiscal year, the institution brought in a record $161 million in outside grant funding for research. And 38 biotech businesses have spun off from research conducted at UNM over the past decade.

“Research means hope,” Larson said. “This accomplishment demonstrates the terrific progress we have made in just five years as a CTSA. We are excited to contemplate the many new advances in coming years that will benefit New Mexicans.”