Thanks to a five-year $20.3 million grant renewal from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), UNLV will continue to lead a health research network of 13 universities across the Mountain West region.
The Mountain West Clinical Translational Research Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN) began in 2013 and is designed to expand the research capacity of UNLV and partner institutions across seven states with a focus on improving the health of residents.
And it’s working. During the first four years of the program, more than $4.6 million was invested in 69 pilot grants throughout the network. These grants are designed as catalysts to help researchers lay the groundwork for larger, independent grant proposals. To date, more than $37 million has been secured through 27 new awards based on initial CTR-IN pilot grants – which amounts to nearly $8 for every $1 invested.
Among the program’s highlights:
- UNLV kinesiology professor Brach Poston used a pilot grant in 2014-15 to support his research on non-invasive brain stimulation to improve motor skill and learning in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. He recently earned a $421,000 grant from the NIH to continue his research.
- University of Wyoming engineering professor Domen Novak was awarded pilot grant funding in 2015-16 to improve driver attention spans with the goal of reducing motor vehicle fatalities. The encouraging results led to the professor receiving a $448,000 award from the National Science Foundation for further research.
“Faculty members’ ability to secure such a large amount of extramural funding demonstrates the difference the CTR-IN is making at the participating universities,” said Dr. Parvesh Kumar, UNLV School of Medicine Vice Dean of Research and lead investigator on the grant. “It’s spurring further research infrastructure development, which is one of our major objectives of this grant.”
Funding comes the National Institutes of Health Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Center of Biomedical Research Excellence. The IDeA program builds research capacities in states that historically have had low levels of NIH funding by supporting basic, clinical and translational research; faculty development; and infrastructure improvements.
“As an academic medical center, the UNLV School of Medicine has as part of its mission the carrying out of research that improves lives, ” said Dr. Barbara Atkinson, founding dean of the medical school. “We’re proud that Dr. Kumar was able to play a key role in the renewal of UNLV’s largest research grant. At UNLV, we believe knowledge can be derived from questioning the status quo, discovering more about illnesses and disorders and using that knowledge to improve the health of our community.”
UNLV and its partner universities share resources and expertise, including biostatistical and administrative support, as well as mentorship and educational opportunities that encourage additional research.
The initial five-year grant was awarded to UNLV in 2013. This renewal will continue funding through 2023.
UNLV is the host university for the CTR-IN. Partner institutions include University of Alaska – Anchorage; University of Alaska – Fairbanks; University of Hawaii – Manoa; Boise State University; Idaho State University; University of Idaho; Montana State University; University of Montana; University of Nevada, Reno; New Mexico State University; University of New Mexico; and University of Wyoming.