UC Translational Medicine Leaders Chart Course at Annual Retreat in San Diego

UC BRAID program leaders

UC BRAID program leaders are (from left): Jennifer R. Grandis (UCSF), Lars Berglund, MD, PhD (UCD), Deborah Grady, MD (UCSF), Steven M. Dubinett, MD (UCLA), Gary S. Firestein, MD (UCSD), and Dan M. Cooper, MD (UCI). Photo by Courtney McFall, UCSF

November 12, 2014 – With plans to “think boldly” about the next phase of integrating resources and talent, representatives of the University of California Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration, and Development (UC BRAID) program staked out future directions during the annual retreat November 7 at UC San Diego. Plans on the horizon include integrating informatics across the UC enterprise, expanding UC Research Exchange (UC ReX – a federated multi-site clinical data repository), developing industry partnerships, and expanding the system-wide network for clinical and translational research.

The meeting, which focused on innovation, collaboration and acceleration, drew more than 80 translational medicine researchers, administrative leaders, staff and faculty representing eight UC campuses. The participants also discussed major achievements and potential new areas of focus.

“We are extremely excited about our progress as we continue to create an environment that decreases barriers to biomedical research and creates new tools to facilitate research,” said Gary S. Firestein, MD, UC BRAID chair, director of UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) and dean and associate vice chancellor of translational medicine at UC San Diego. “UC BRAID serves as a model for collaborative consortia.”

Established in 2010, UC BRAID, in collaboration with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), is a joint effort of the five UC biomedical campuses to catalyze, accelerate, and reduce the barriers for biomedical, clinical, and translational research across the UC system. The UC BRAID consortium — UC Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco — pools data, resources and expertise to reach this goal. The five UC BRAID partners are members of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards network funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). UC Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz and UCOP also participated in this year's UC BRAID meeting.

Lars Berglund, incoming chair of UC BRAID, welcomed the retreat participants. “BRAID is not a goal. It is a means for reaching our goals,” said Dr. Berglund, MD, PhD, director of the Clinical and Translational Science Center and senior associate dean of research at UC Davis. The retreat provided a snapshot of “who we are” and energized the participants to continue fulfilling BRAID’s mission. “Enhancing collaboration between the UC system partners will advance the translational research initiative by disintegrating barriers that have evolved,” he said.

Rachael Sak, RN, MPH, director of UC BRAID, discussed the evolvement of UC BRAID during her presentation about leveraging a UC network. “We have a shared vision: to integrate resources and talent across UC to accelerate research that improves health. We are leveraging these, developing Institutional Review Board (IRB) and contracting metrics, and shaping into a collaborative network,” she said. Sak, noting how far the organization has progressed since it was established, cited the following two major successes of UC BRAID during this past year:

Cross-UC Clinical Trial Recruitment: Building upon its accomplishments in cohort discovery and IRB reliance, UC BRAID is developing more advanced cross-campus participant recruitment strategies and services.

National Leadership in NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Projects: UC BRAID is at the core of two recent initiatives, Accrual to Clinical Trials and IRB Reliance, supported by NCATS to enable a national network that can conduct large, multicenter clinical trials.

William Tucker, Interim Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies and Executive Director, Innovation Alliances and Services with UCOP, presented a talk, “Leveraging UC’s research enterprise for value: President Napolitano’s initiatives that involve research.” Tucker said these initiatives include stimulating research and discovery in areas of strategic importance that benefits California and the world, and improves human lives, the environment and the economy. He lauded BRAID for doing a “great job” of organizing itself and leveraging the system and common practices. Tucker’s takeaway message was: “Think boldly.”

Other presenters were Mike Palazzolo, director of UC BRAID Center for Accelerated Innovation; Doug Bell, chair of UC ReX; Mike Caliguiri, project director for IRB metrics; Eric Mah, project director for IRB reliance; and Dan Dohan, project director for EngageUC. Breakout sessions at the retreat focused on biobanking and biorepositories, child health, contracting, regulatory, drug and device discovery and development, and UC ReX.

By Patti Wieser