“Translational research is taking place more and more on a global level,” said Indiana CTSI Director Anantha Shekhar, M.D. “Basic research conducted in one country may just as easily make the translation to application in another country. Moreover, the obstacle of getting basic research to the marketplace is a problem faced on a global scale. This collaboration will allow both institutions to come together to look at each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to make both institutions stronger.”
ANU is setting up a new Department of Translational Medicine at its John Curtin School of Medical Research.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Indiana’s fully established, statewide CTSI,” said Julio Licinio, director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research. “For the ANU, Indiana’s strengths in so many areas across all academic disciplines will provide much-needed scientific partnerships across the full spectrum of translational science in the U.S. Likewise, Indiana will have access to a broad base of research resources and a vast academic network in the Asia-Pacific region.”
The collaborative arrangement was finalized in November when Shekhar attended the First International Conference on Translational Medicine, held at ANU. The conference brought researchers from all over the world to discuss best practices and the challenges facing translational medicine today. Representatives from more than 20 different institutions were in attendance, including all the major medical centers in Australia and leading institutions from U.K., Germany, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, Israel and China. The U.S. was represented by leaders of the CTSA programs at the National Institutes of Health, IU, Duke, University of Southern California and University of California, San Francisco.
Perhaps the most impressive outcome of the conference, said Shekhar, was the new collaboration, established under the leadership of Lucinio and with a five-year timeline in mind. The first step involves creating a joint master’s degree in translation science to offer to medical or doctoral students. The new program will begin admitting students next fall. Through this program there will be at least two opportunities for IU students to attend ANU, as well as for ANU students to attend IU.
Students will have the opportunity to learn about each country’s research culture, health care models and research funding structure.
“This will allow scientists and students to gain a diverse research background and a fresh perspective on research,” Shekhar said. “Understanding the characteristics of another country’s research infrastructure, students can learn best practices that they can adapt to their own country.”
Secondly, the institutions will examine their research portfolios for projects that have synergy between IU and ANU. These projects potentially can be used to create joint research programs that will draw on the strengths of each university to facilitate quicker research results. Licinio noted, for example, that he and Shekhar are both psychiatrists who work in similar research areas.
“Additionally,” Licinio said, “as the ANU launches new graduate programs in translational medicine in 2011, we will have considerable interface with Indiana’s CTSI in the area of career development and training. We look forward to creating strong ties between the two institutions as a way of expanding the frontiers of the emerging and exciting field of translational medicine.”
Overall, Shekhar said, the collaboration will support both IU and ANU and allow each to focus its research on a global perspective.
About the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute
The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute is a statewide collaboration of Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame, as well as public and private partnerships. It facilitates the translation of scientific discoveries in the lab into clinical trials and new patient treatments in Indiana and beyond. Indiana CTSI was established in 2008 with a $25 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health, together with nearly $60 million from the state, the three member universities, and public and private donors. The Indiana CTSI is a member of a national network of 55 CTSA-funded organizations across the United States.