UVM gets $12.1 million for research

The General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) that serves Fletcher Allen Heath Care and the University of Vermont received a $12.1 million five-year grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH). The grant will fund the GCRC for the next five years as it prepares to transform into a more translational research facility as required by the NIH’s new vision for the future of clinical research. The NIH is a federal government agency that funds medical research in the United States with the goal of, “making important medical discoveries that improve health and save lives,” according to their website. GCRC’s are the facilities in which clinical research is conducted. According to Richard Galbraith, director of the GCRC and associate dean for patient oriented research at the University, the use of NIH funding falls into three major categories: salaries for specially trained research nurses and technicians being the largest cost (about 70 percent of all costs), followed by equipment costs and the rent costs for the physical space. Professor Paul Newhouse, MD of psychiatry and director of the clinical neuroscience research unit at the University, rates the GCRC as one of the largest and best in the country. “I came here from NIH in Washington for that facility,” Newhouse said.Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, the director of NIH, has put forth a new vision for the future of clinical research.This new vision includes better communication between all branches and tiers of the medical community with the goal of increasing the speed with which advancements in the lab are applied to patients, and observations made by patients are communicated to the lab. The goal is to, “draw connected lines [between] the lab, patient and community,” Newhouse said. “Nobody is sure what this will look like yet.” Some of the other research being done at the GCRC is cancer research, acupuncture research, and diabetes/obesity research. “[Diabetes and obesity] is an epidemic in this country,” Galbraith said. “As disease burden has shifted from acute conditions to chronic conditions… new approaches for forging relationships with local and regional community partners will become increasingly critical,” stated the NIH website.Professor Newhouse is currently working on four different projects concerning the effects of estrogen on the aging brain. He uses both equipment in the GCRC and equipment owned separately by the UVM College of Medicine. Dr. Galbraith says he has “no immediate plans” for new equipment purchases, but noted a growing interest in sleep studies, which would require the purchase of new equipment.