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Director's Message: Fall 2013

Dr. Firestein

The CTRI is pleased to announce its new “LaunchingPad” program, which collaborates with clinical investigators interested in planning and performing biomarker-based clinical studies. Through the Translational Research Technology Division (TRT) at CTRI, we provide laboratory, clinical, and bio-repository consultation and collaborative services to LaunchingPad investigators.

Our first major project is the Sandborn-Boyle inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) collaboration [full story]. We are delighted to be working with Dr. William Sandborn, a world-renowned IBD investigator and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology. He and his research team join Professor David Boyle in studying how treatments for IBD regulate the key pathogenic mechanisms in the inflamed colon. They are looking at tissue biomarkers before, during and after therapy to help understand how novel therapies impact the target organ in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

CTRI studies investigating how biomarkers help us understand drug effect began with serial synovial biopsies in rheumatoid arthritis. Boyle and colleagues found that synovial biopsies obtained at arthroscopy provide crucial information on the mechanism of action of anti-rheumatic drugs. Similarly, the Sandborn-Boyle team hopes to gain a better understanding of the pathogenesis of IBD and how drugs affect the inflammatory response in the gastrointestinal tract.

The IBD LaunchingPad team began a little more than a year ago. The team collected colon biopsy samples from the subjects and validated the biomarker assays, including correlations with disease activity. The group is now ready to begin using this technology to study the effects of novel therapies.

LaunchingPad is one of the ways we continue to make progress translating outstanding science into improved health care. The Sandborn-Boyle collaboration exemplifies this vision, as well as our mission at CTRI: to provide research resources, training, and collaboration opportunities for CTRI scientists, health care providers, and the community. We are interested in “launching” collaborations to study other diseases. The CTRI invites researchers to explore whether the LaunchingPad methodology might be beneficial to their research. If you would like to learn more about the program, please contact us or submit a service form for a TRT consultation.

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