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University of Iowa medical college lands $28M to take research to rural Iowa
‘This can help overcome geographical barriers and effectively address rural health disparities’
IOWA CITY — For the fourth time since 2007, the National Institutes of Health has renewed a large scientific grant for the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine — this time awarding it $28 million over seven years to “take clinical research out into rural communities.”
The award from the NIH-associated National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences supports work by the university’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Science — established the same year of its first award in 2007. With past grants and renewals, the UI expects to have received $114 million through the award by 2030.
Translational research aims to move — or translate — basic science from the laboratory to the patient, leading to clinical trials and eventually everyday health care. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences was created to speed up the process of medical discovery and dissemination — essentially getting new drugs, treatments and therapies to patients faster, cheaper and more efficiently.
The UI institute for more than 15 years has been working to develop novel therapies and health care delivery strategies; integrate research into clinical practice; and make “measurable improvements in the health of Iowa and the nation.”
The new $28 million award renewal aims to foster and strengthen partnerships between academic medicine and rural patients and providers, UIHC officials said.
“This can help overcome geographical barriers and effectively address rural health disparities to improve the well-being of traditionally underserved populations,” according to a UI news release.
UI Health Care over the years has expanded its statewide reach and footprint, in part, with adult and pediatric primary and specialty clinics — reporting in September it had 125 total, from clinics in Woodbury County on the western border to clinics in Dubuque and Clinton counties on the east. Some of Iowa’s more rural clinics are in Decatur, Shenandoah, Mason City and Creston.
The university last month received Board of Regents approval to enter into a lease agreement with the Siouxland Medical Education Foundation in Sioux City, allowing UIHC to collaborate and keep alive a family medicine residency program.
“Having collaborators in Sioux City does provide a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with health providers in this part of the state,” Dr. Patricia Winokur, executive dean of the UI College of Medicine and co-director of its clinical and translational science institute, told The Gazette.
“Our overarching goal is to get research out beyond the confines of our academic medical center to benefit citizens throughout the state, including those in rural settings.”
Winokur leads the UI’s work under the Clinical and Translational Science Award, alongside Marlan Hansen, chair and departmental executive officer of the UI Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.
Research hubs ‘get treatments to patients more quickly’
On a national level, the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program supports more than 60 medical research hubs that work together “to get more treatments to more patients more quickly.”
Earlier this year, for example, a group of six hubs that joined to form the Consortium of Rural States — including the UI — issued a call for applications from faculty with ideas for projects identifying and overcoming barriers to translational research.
Within the UI campus, the award supports cross-disciplinary cooperation involving the colleges of medicine, public health, business, pharmacy, and liberal arts and sciences.
UIHC Vice President for Medical Affairs and Carver College of Medicine Dean Brooks Jackson said although a core aim of academic medical centers is to discover and develop new therapies and technologies to treat illness, it can’t stop there.
“To truly advance health care and improve patient outcomes, we need to move those discoveries beyond our walls and get them into the communities where that will make people’s lives and health better,” Jackson said. “The exceptional work of the CTSA team under the leadership of Dr. Winokur and Dr. Hansen is putting that goal into practice and accelerating the adoption of the most up-to-date therapies and technologies to improve patient care no matter where people live.”
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