A consortium of the five University of California medical campuses at UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA and UC San Francisco has been designated a Center for Accelerated Innovations by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The designation, among the first of its kind from NHLBI, recognizes the University of California’s potential to translate its leading-edge discoveries into innovative products that benefit patients.
NHLBI issued grants totaling $31.5 million to establish three inaugural, multi-institution Centers for Accelerated Innovations. In addition to the UC consortium, these include Boston Biomedical Innovation Center (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and President and Fellows of Harvard College) and Cleveland Clinic Innovation Accelerator (The Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine; Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; The Ohio State University, Columbus; and University of Cincinnati).
The University of California Center for Accelerated Innovation (UC CAI) will leverage the expertise and resources of the five state medical campuses and use industrial product-development practices to incubate technologies with high commercial potential. The five campuses accounted for 7 percent of NHLBI’s fiscal year 2012 grant funding, providing a rich research base to support a diverse pipeline of diagnostics, devices, therapeutics, and tools for heart, lung and blood diseases.
The UC Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration and Development (UC BRAID), which links the five medical campuses to facilitate contracting, data sharing, regulatory oversight and other activities, will oversee UC CAI.
“The launch of this program is a remarkable example of inter-institutional collaboration,” said Gary S. Firestein, MD, dean and associate vice chancellor of translational medicine at UC San Diego Health Sciences, and chair of UC BRAID. “The leaders of engineering, business and medical schools across the five campuses developed a shared vision and worked with UC BRAID to create an extraordinary proposal. The new resources will dramatically accelerate the development of novel diagnostics, therapies and devices discovered at the University of California.”
The new center will be closely integrated with the translational research institutes and centers on the five campuses, funded by Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA). The CTSA-funded centers and institutes will provide full access to research resources on each campus, including clinical research facilities and labs, access to research cores, biostatistical support, bioinformatics, pilot funding, regulatory consultations and research education and training.
UC San Diego Health Sciences and its expanding Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) received a five-year, $37.2 million CTSA award from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), part of the National Institutes of Health in July 2010.
The UC CAI, whose administration will be based at UCLA, has four goals:
- Engage UC heart, lung and blood disease innovators in entrepreneurism through a comprehensive education, training and mentorship program.
- Solicit and select technologies with high commercial potential that align with NHLBI’s mission and address unmet medical needs or significant scientific opportunity.
- Incubate our most promising technologies in accordance with industry requirements to facilitate their transition to commercial products that improve patient care and enhance health.
- Create a high-performing sustainable infrastructure that will serve as a model to academic research centers.
The UC CAI also will have access to local biomedical industry organizations; healthcare agencies; clinical networks; public health departments; nonprofit research institutes; venture capitalists and investors; and manufacturers of medical devices, diagnostic equipment and pharmaceuticals that have developed close interactions with CTSA-funded institutes and centers.
“This is an excellent example of what we can accomplish through our CTSAs by collaborating across UC campuses and disciplines for effective translation of our discoveries to products that will help our patients,” said Steven Dubinett, MD, director of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
In addition to the considerable support from the CTSAs, each campus will bring its own unique expertise and resource, such as: UCLA’s tissue array and translational pathology cores, UC San Diego’s biomarker and cardiovascular physiology core, UC San Francisco’s small molecule discovery center and airway clinical research center, UC Irvine’s mechanical testing, microscopy and cell and tissue cores specifically for cardiovascular technology and UC Davis’ animal research center.
“Each of the UCs is a powerhouse, but together they are unstoppable,” said Clay Johnston, MD, PhD, director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute in San Francisco. “There is so much more we can do in collaboration and UC BRAID is helping us realize that.”