Dear Reader,

The US population is just north of 325 million people but is not evenly distributed geographically. In fact, >80% of the population (urban) is squeezed into only about 3% of the total land mass, while the remainder (rural), about 60 million, occupy the other 97%. Needless to say, this presents some unique challenges for health care delivery, particularly with regards to the distribution of specialists as well as high tech medical equipment. As a result, rural residents usually sustain higher rates of poverty and experience less access to needed healthcare services. In addition to drug overdose and suicide, Americans living in rural areas are more likely to die from five leading causes than their urban counterparts, including heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. Many of these deaths should be preventable.

Congress has taken notice and last year embedded language within our FY19 appropriations to encourage the CTSA Program to expand translational research efforts that address rural health disparities as well as the significant burden of conditions that disproportionately affect minority and special populations. Applying the CTSA Program model to address longstanding regional health disparities can provide innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to reducing the burden of disease among vulnerable populations. It’s critical to continue to innovate by leveraging statewide resources and capabilities to improve rural health outcomes and eliminate health disparities.

The CTSA Program has longstanding interests in addressing rural health disparities and promoting quality and increased health care access among rural underserved population. As an example, the Appalachian Translational Research Network of nine institutions, including five CTSA Program hubs, is addressing significant health challenges and disparities specific to Appalachia region. And with CLIC’s support, the University of Florida will host an Un-meeting focused on rural health and health equity on April 8, 2019. This provides a unique opportunity for attendees to identify the intersection of unmet medical needs with translational opportunities.

Most recently, NCATS has released a Notice of Information to emphasize the CTSA Program’s interest in improving rural health outcome and reducing health disparities. CTSA Program investigators and investigators supported by Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program Infrastructure for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR) awards are encouraged to work together to address translational science barriers. January’s CTSA Program Webinar highlighted the IDeA-CTRs and described some of the partnerships in place with CTSAs. We anticipate further collaborations between CTSA Program hubs and institutions that will complement and/or enhance efforts to address health disparities and rural health outcomes. 

Lastly, we have made tracking rural health activities a priority, so please send us your rural health stories through reporting in your annual progress report and through the CTSA Program WOW! Factor Form. In this manner, we can craft narratives for Congress, the media, and the general public that demonstrate the impact of the CTSA Program! Let’s work together to build regional public-private partnerships, enhance rural community outreach, improve access of underserved populations to clinical trials, and eventually reduce rural health inequities.

Finally, I’ll leave you with some words of philosophers and deep thinkers that have left a lasting impression on me.

Dr. K
Michael G. Kurilla, M.D., Ph.D.,
Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation, NCATS

If nobody hates you, you’re doing something wrong” – Gregory House, MD.




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Registration is now open for the University of Florida’s Un-Meeting on Rural Health and Health Equity, taking place Monday, April 8, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida. This event will focus on catalyzing new collaborations to bridge the translational science and agricultural extension sectors to improve rural health and achieve health equity, hosted by the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. To help defray costs and encourage broad participation from CTSA Program hubs, one nominee from each CTSA Program hub is eligible to receive a travel stipend of up to $500. Selection of a hub’s nominee is at the discretion of the hub principal investigator (PI) and requires a letter of support from the hub PI. You can view full event details, learn more about the stipend process, and register via the link below.



Spring CTSA Program Group Meetings: New Registration Requirements

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Due to the proprietary information that may be shared during the meetings, NCATS will be verifying those who register. Therefore, all registrations must be done in advance and there will be NO ON-SITE REGISTRATION. You MUST register by the appropriate deadlines below. For those who have registered for online attendance, once your registration has been reviewed and approved, the Zoom registration link for the specific meetings you’re attending will be sent the week prior to the meeting. If you have already registered, you should have received a confirmation email. If you do not have a confirmation email, please contact CLIC at program_meetings@clic-ctsa.org to verify that you are registered. 

What do you ASPIRE to?

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NCATS invites innovators to learn more about the NCATS ASPIRE Design Challenges for Translational Innovation in Pain, Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), and Overdose, whose goal is to reward and spur innovative and catalytic approaches towards solving the opioid crisis through development of: (1) novel chemistries; (2) data-mining and analysis tools and technologies; and (3) biological assays that will revolutionize discovery, development and pre-clinical testing of next generation, safer and non-addictive analgesics to treat pain, as well as new treatments for OUD and overdose. For more information, watch this video or click below.

What’s New with Prior Approval Requests that Involve Human Subjects Research?

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Lots! Experience with the new eRA Human Subjects System (HSS) requirements and current HSS structure necessitate revised guidance. Interactions with the first sites to submit requests via HHS and their feedback has been used to improve our guidance. Revisions include a combination of the HSRPA Addendum and Instructions (watch for an email to the PI and Administrator listservs).

NIH Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH) Awards

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We are pleased to announce the renewal of the NIH Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH) program, established to facilitate and accelerate the translation of academic biomedical discoveries into products that improve patient care and public health. Application due date is March 19, 2019.

CTTI and FDA Convene Workshop on Including Patient Perspectives in Clinical Trials

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The Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) will convene a public workshop, “Enhancing the Incorporation of Patient Perspectives in Clinical Trials,” in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Mon., March 18, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring, MD. The public workshop will explore best practices for incorporating patient input on clinical trial access, design, conduct, and follow-up. Register online to attend workshop—registration is free and based on space availability, with priority given to early registrants. A live webcast will also be available.

Accessing Your Common Metrics Report in February

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The Multi-Year Common Metrics Report will be available at the end of February via the CLIC website. In order to access, you need to establish a CLIC website account, if you haven’t already. On January 31, specific instructions on accessing your report were sent via email to hub PIs, Administrators and Evaluators (the same list of recipients who received last year’s CM report). For questions, contact the CLIC CM Team.

Common Metrics Report Webinars in March

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We have scheduled two webinars post-release of the reports: March 18 at 4p ET and March 26 at 12noon ET. An overview of the analysis process will be presented followed by a question and answer period. Register for the date that is most convenient for you: March 18 or March 26.

Collaborative Innovation Awards (CCIAs) – Collaboration is Part of Our DNA

The CTSA Program supports collaborative research activities to develop innovative solutions that will improve the efficiency, quality and impact of translational research. To this end, last year, NCATS re-issued two funding opportunities: PAR-19-099 (U01) and PAR-19-100 (R21). These FOAs are part of NCATS CTSA Program Collaborative Suite of Awards to provide support to investigators to tackle a translational science problem no one hub can solve alone or to disseminate a validated solution. The CCIA U01 awards support investigators from three or more CTSA Program hub institutions working on solutions to translational science problems. Similarly, but earlier in the process, the R21 awards support investigators from two or more CTSA Program hub institutions to work on “higher risk” new exploratory and developmental research projects. The next due date for applications is March 8, 2019.


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