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Director’s Message, Winter 2016-2017

Dr. Firestein

Obtaining preliminary data is essential to the success of early-stage clinical studies, and is the cornerstone for receiving federal or foundation support for larger scale studies. Last year, the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) implemented a Vouchers Program to enable researchers to gather preliminary results for grant submissions. These vouchers provide support for research services for in-kind services only, including those related to the ACTRI clinic, laboratory, biostatistics and bioinformatics, and the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (CCBB). Vouchers range from $500 to $10,000, depending on category and type of service.

Since we created the ACTRI Vouchers Program, we have continued to expand and improve it. The addition of CCBB vouchers is one of our newest categories. The vouchers can be used for systems biology and genomics “brainstorming”, project planning and consultation or data analysis services such as RNA-sequencing, ChIP-sequencing, DNA-sequencing, microbiome, network analysis, and data mining. In the first few months of the program, we have supported seven projects, with many more in the planning stages. Examples of CCBB voucher support on projects include providing network analysis on a neuropsychiatric disorders study; biomarker identification on a bipolar disorder clinical trial; gene expression and pathway analysis on an osteoarthritis project; and epigenetic regulation of gene expression in a hypoxia and heat stress study. We welcome additional requests for CCBB Vouchers through the ACTRI.

More recently, we have provided an allowance for ACTRI Vouchers to supplement two types of NIH-supported studies for clinical services only. First, we can now provide vouchers to supplement an NIH-funded clinical research project for clinical services. In addition, vouchers can now be used to expand an existing NIH-funded project to collect new data not in the original Specific Aims that will be used for renewal or new grants. Vouchers can be used for ACTRI Clinic services ranging from nursing, clinical coordinator and ultrasound to project management and investigational drug compounding. Clinic staff can provide expert guidance to Principal Investigators in pre-launch and post-launch trial activities such as subject recruitment, scientific reviews, and regulatory tracking, as well as services including sample collection and processing, infusion, and DEXA scans. Some of the clinic projects we have supported through the ACTRI Vouchers Program include serial blood draws and ultrasound for flow-mediated dilation.

One of the ways we carry out our mission to translate scientific discoveries into improved health is by supporting researchers through innovative programs, including Vouchers. We invite you to find out more about ACTRI vouchers, eligibility requirements, and IRB/IACUC guidelines by visiting our Vouchers web page or by contacting ACTRI Clinic Director Mark S. Wallace, MD or Clinic Nurse Manager Maeve Taaffe, RN.

Researchers interested in applying for ACTRI Vouchers should submit a CTRI Service Request Form.

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