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Director’s Message, Spring 2016

Dr. Firestein

I am delighted to announce we will begin moving into our new home, the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) building, this summer. We are preparing for this phased move as the finishing touches are being added to the ACTRI. On March 4, under sunny skies, we dedicated the building during a ribbon cutting celebration.

The purpose of the ACTRI is to establish a central facility that enables laboratory and clinical researchers to work side-by-side and share resources in their efforts to better understand and treat disease. Laboratory scientists, physicians, engineers and others across many disciplines, will work inside this seven-story structure to develop new drugs, therapies, devices and technologies. There really is nothing else like it in the country.

The design of the building reinforces multidisciplinary collaborations. Located on the UC San Diego medical campus in La Jolla, the ACTRI encompasses 359,000 square feet of offices, laboratories and clinical space, which can accommodate 100 faculty and 1,000 staff. It will include wet research laboratories for testing drugs and understanding disease pathogenesis; dry research labs for computational analysis and clinical researchers; a research clinic; administrative offices; an auditorium for presentations and seminars; a café; and conference and meeting spaces. There is also an interior courtyard and terrace with sweeping views – spaces that further encourage interactions.

One of the most exciting areas of the Altman CTRI is the Center for Clinical Research, managed by Mark Wallace, MD. This dedicated research clinic has 18,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities to support all phases of clinical research – from idea to implementation. Our research clinic supports a broad range of studies, from sleep studies, to stem-cell-derived therapy for Type 1 diabetes, to an imaging agent for women with primary breast cancer undergoing surgery, to early stage Inflammatory Bowel Disease colon biopsy studies.

It includes:

  • a phase I unit for testing first in human studies for new drugs and devices
  • a research pharmacy to prepare experimental treatments under rigorous conditions
  • over 20 rooms for clinical trials, including overnight rooms, procedure rooms, examination rooms, and consultation rooms
  • a kitchen for metabolic and diabetes studies
  • cardiovascular phenotyping services
  • an infusion center
  • rooms for activities such as exercise and lung testing, and a DEXA scanner to measure bone health
  • trained staff to perform procedures

More than two dozen employees – skilled nurses, clinical coordinators, a registered dietitian, a registered sonographer, biostatisticians, pharmacists, and a pharmacy technician – support the researchers who will conduct more than 160 clinical trials each year at the ACTRI, with the capacity to conduct hundreds of trials in the future.

Pharmacy services are critical to the success of clinical trials involving experimental drugs. The Research Pharmacy at the ACTRI is a 1,000-square-foot pharmacy capable of supporting hundreds of clinical trials. This temperature-controlled space includes a refrigerator, a freezer, storage, compounding areas, and a glove box for handling sterile material.

We are dedicated to performing research studies involving both adult and pediatric subjects and are very excited about launching the Center for Life Course Research at the ACTRI. We created this center in response to a need to incorporate special populations and all age groups into clinical trials.

We are also very excited about the Center for Accelerated Drug Discovery – or CADD – another program being launched at the ACTRI. CADD integrates our biomarker laboratory, computational biology, and our phase I unit to facilitate novel early stage clinical trials.

This spring brings great hope and new opportunities for clinical research, our faculty and staff, trainees, and our community. Our new ACTRI building exemplifies growth of clinical and translational science at UC San Diego.

We have much to celebrate and look forward to continuing our growth with you!

Gary S. Firestein, MD, Director of CTRI
Professor of Medicine
Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine
Phone: (858) 822-3824