Category: Featured

Three GSDM Researchers Receive CTSI Pilot Grants

November 23rd, 2015 in Featured, Research


Manish Bais

Three Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) researchers have been awarded $20,000 each in Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) pilot funding. The GSDM researchers are Research Associate Professor Dr. Manish Bais, Research Associate Professor Dr. Ann Marie Egloff, and Professor Dr. John C. Samuelson. All three researchers are in GSDM’s Department of Molecular & Cell Biology.


Ann Marie Egloff

The pilot grant competition, led by the Boston University CTSI and financially supported by GSDM, funds innovative translational research intended to obtain preliminary data for federal funding applications. Many outstanding proposals were submitted, and a panel of faculty members reviewed the proposals to decide which to select for funding.


John Samuelson

Dr. Bais received funding for his project, “Lysine specific demethylase 1 inhibitor for improved personalized oral cancer therapy.” In this project, Dr. Bais will investigate two effects of LSD1 on oral cancer. First, this project will determine if LSD1 sensitizes recurrent oral cancer stem cells to chemotherapy and radiation therapy in patient-derived primary cells. Second, it will evaluate if inhibition of LSD1 sensitizes oral squamous cell tumors to radiation therapy in PDOX mouse models. The results of this research have strong translational potential, and could identify LSD1 as a novel drug sensitive target in FDA approved combination therapies. This is the second year that Dr. Bais has been awarded a CTSI grant.

Dr. Egloff received funding for her project, “Improving upon EGFR targeting for head and neck cancer using relevant models.” This project will investigate the hypothesis that Her2 and ER signaling is vital for HNSCC growth and survival in the presence of the EGFR blockade. By developing and evaluating preclinical models, Dr. Egloff strives to improve assessment of candidate therapies and their potential for translation to the clinic. Dr. Michael Platt and Dr. Scharukh Jalisi, both members of the Department of Otolaryngology, will also be working on this project.

Dr. Samuelson received funding for his project, “Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers to kill oocysts of Cryptosporidium and Toxoplasma.” The coccidian parasites Cryptosporidium and Toxoplasma are important human pathogens, but in many situations hand washing—the most effective way to prevent infection—is not practical. Dr. Samuelson’s project will investigate whether alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which have been shown to reduce spread of many pathogens in hospitals and other public places, might be effective against these parasites.

“I would like to congratulate the recipients of the CTSI pilot grant awards,” said Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter. “While only three projects could be selected, many outstanding projects were submitted, highlighting the breadth and depth of research excellence at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.”

Submitted by GSDM Communications.

BUMC FedEx Print Center is Moving Dec. 1

November 19th, 2015 in Featured

The FedEx Office On-Campus Print Center is moving! The new print center will be located at 700 Albany St. (next to City Convenience). The existing print center, at 715 Albany St., will remain open for business through Nov. 30. The new print center location will be open for business on Dec. 2. Both print centers will be closed on Dec. 1, but print support will be available through the Charles River Campus Print Center, located at 115 Cummington Mall,, 617-358-2679. If you have any questions about print support during this transition, please contact Robert Munstis at or 339-832.8007.

Open House
Thursday, Dec. 12
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
700 Albany St.

Visit the new and improved FedEx Office On-Campus Print Center and learn more about products and services offered. The customer service team will be on site to discuss the details behind the 10+ year partnership with the Medical Campus, recent changes/upgrades to services and capabilities, and to answer any questions you have about pricing, capabilities, lead times and delivery options. Stop by and learn how the FedEx Office On-Campus Print Center can help your team reduce costs and improve productivity!

Nov. 16 The Life Equation

November 13th, 2015 in Featured

COM The Life Equation

Big data is coming to global health.
But who should decide who lives and dies:
Doctors on the front lines or a mathematical formula?

Join emmy-winning filmmaker Rob Tinworth as he discusses the ethics surrounding data-driven health care. He will screen clips from his film ‘The Life Equation ‘ a documentary film that follows extraordinary people making impossible choices.

Watch the trailer

Attend the event
Monday, Nov. 16
5:30-7 p.m.
BUSM Instructional Building, Room L-210
Light refreshments provided

Sponsored by the BUSM Office of Enrichment

Dec. 9 BUMC Provost Guest Lecture

November 5th, 2015 in Featured

Extending a Hand: Dr. Salman Zarka on the humanitarian treatment of Syrian casualties in Israel

Salman Zarka, MD, MPH, Director General of Ziv Medical Center, Safed, Israel

Students, faculty and staff are invited to the BUMC Provost Guest Lecture on Dec. 9.

Salman Zarka, MD, MPH, Director General of Ziv Medical Center, Safed, Israel

Salman Zarka

Prior to his position at Ziv Medical Center, Dr. Zarka served as a Colonel in the Israel Defense Forces for 25 years in a variety of positions, the last of which was as Commander of the Military Health Services Department. Prior to this position, Dr. Zarka was the head of the Medical Corps of the Northern Command and Commander of the Military Field Hospital for the Syrian casualties in the Golan Heights.

Dr. Zarka graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa in 1988. He received a master’s degree in Public Health from Hebrew University, Jerusalem, as well as a master’s in Political Science from the University of Haifa.

Dr. Zarka will be accompanied by Jennifer Sieber, Director of Academic Affairs, Consulate General of Israel to New England.

Extending a Hand: Dr. Salman Zarka on the humanitarian treatment of Syrian casualties in Israel

  • Wednesday, Dec. 9
  • 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Hiebert Lounge
  • Presentation followed by luncheon

An Extraordinary Concert

October 22nd, 2015 in Featured

COM Extraordinary Concert 2015On Friday, Oct. 16, the BUMC Arts Lab, BUSM Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity, and the BMC Neurology Department hosted, “An Extraordinary Concert” – a creative collaboration between neurology patients and BUMC musicians. The concert is an opportunity for patients who have been successfully treated by the Department of Neurology to thank their care givers and showcase their many musical talents.

Performances ranged from classic and country to Creole. This is the fourth year that BUMC has hosted this event. View the Facebook album.

BUMC Influenza (Flu) Vaccination Clinic Nov. 2

October 22nd, 2015 in Announcements, Featured

The Occupational Health Center will be offering an additional influenza (flu) vaccination clinic for those who were unable to attend the previously scheduled clinics. The vaccine is available at no cost to BUMC employees. We encourage you to protect yourselves and those around you during this flu season.

For information regarding the 2015-2016 flu vaccine please refer to the Occupational Health Center’s website at If you have any questions regarding the vaccine or clinic schedule, please email

The clinics will be held on both Charles River and Medical campuses and open to all BU employees on a walk-in basis.

Medical Campus

Location: Goldman School of Dental Medicine, 100 E. Newton Street, Room 309

Monday, Nov. 2, 1-3:30 p.m.

Please note:

  • Wear a short sleeve shirt to enable easier access to your upper arm.
  • Please bring your BU ID card.
  • MA DPH recommends that all health care providers receive the influenza vaccine unless contraindicated*


  • Severe allergy to eggs
  • History of severe reaction to influenza vaccination
  • Moderate-to-severe illness
  • History of Guillain-Barre syndrome

Oct. 29 Symposium: Ebola, The Disease and Immune Privilege

October 21st, 2015 in Featured

Medical Campus students, faculty and staff are invited to the “Ebola, The Disease, and Immune Privilege” symposium.

  • Thursday, Oct. 29
  • 1-6 p.m.
  • BUSM Instructional Building, Hiebert Lounge

Credit: Kevin Liles, New York Times

Credit: Kevin Liles, New York Times

The Symposium will feature guest speaker Ian Crozier, MD, an infectious disease specialist who while helping to fight against the Ebola outbreak in Kenema, Sierra Leone in August 2014, contracted the disease and was evacuated to Emory University Hospital where he recovered. Two months later with fading vision it was discovered that while his blood was Ebola-free, the eye was not. With Dr. Crozier our second invited speaker will be Steven Yeh, MD, Louise M. Simpson Professor of Ophthalmology, Emory Eye Center, who led the team to save his vision.

The symposium will include additional talks and discussions on immune privileged tissues, filovirus infections, infection control and testing, and the sequential care needed for patients surviving Ebola by BUSM faculty Andrew Taylor, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology; Elke Muhlberger, PhD, Department of Microbiology; Nahid Bhadelia, MD, Department of Medicine; and Nancy Miller, MD, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.

To learn more about Dr. Cozier’s experience visit the New York Times story Questions? Email

Ebola, The Disease and Immune Privilege Symposium

Hiebert Lounge
Oct. 29, 1-6 p.m.

1-1:30 p.m. Welcome & Introduction to Immune Privilege”
Andrew W. Taylor, PhD, Associate Dean For Research, Professor of Ophthalmology

1:35-2:05 Not so silent – How primary human macrophages respond to Ebola virus infection”
Elke Mühlberger, PhD, Associate Professor, Microbiology

2:10-2:40 “Ebola Dx and the U.S. clinical laboratory: From practical to practice to promise”
Nancy S. Miller, MD, Assistant Professor, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

2:45-3:35 “Dual citizenship at the Ebola bedside: a provider become a patient”
Ian Crozier, MD, Infectious Diseases Specialist

3:40-4:10 “Eye Disease in Ebola Survivors: Individual and Global Health Implications”
Steven Yeh, MD, Louise M. Simpson Professor of Ophthalmology, The Emory Eye Center – Atlanta, Georgia

4:15-4:45 “Dual citizenship at the Ebola bedside: a survivor’s story”
Ian Crozier, MD, Infectious Diseases Specialist

4:45-5 Questions & Answers
Drs. Taylor, Mühlberger, Miller, Yeh and Crozier.

5- 6 p.m. Reception

Rocking with the BU Medical Campus Band

October 20th, 2015 in Featured

Ensemble fuses genres, fuels camaraderie

As everyone knows, getting into medical and dental school is fiercely competitive. And for those choosing academic medicine, that M.D. tacked to their name promises admission into an almost military-style hierarchy. But at the BU School of Medicine, the Henry Goldman School of Dental Medicine, the School of Public Health, and Boston Medical Center, there is one place where everyone, from cardiac surgeons to shift nurses to third-year dental students, shares equal status and carries equal weight. It’s the BU Medical Campus Band, and since 2011 the faculty, students, and staff comprising this ragtag jazz-rock-country-world music fusion ensemble have been letting off steam on many Sunday mornings at the School of Medicine Bakst Auditorium.

They also occasionally take the stage for paid performances, with the proceeds from several of them going to the Berklee College of Music scholarship fund. (A group of Berklee musicians returned the favor with a performance benefiting BMC.)

Last week, the band played at a MED young alumni reunion at Boston’s Taj hotel. They’ll next perform publicly on Monday, November 16, at the Midway Café in Jamaica Plain at 7 p.m.

The band was the brainchild of lead guitarist and harmonica player Rafael Ortega, a MED professor of anesthesia and a BMC anesthesiologist, who is game to jam in any style, be it soul, rock, jazz, or the reggae and calypso of his Dominican Republic childhood. Like his bandmates, a Sunday morning on-call might have him swiftly trading his jeans for scrubs. Ortega says the Sunday schedule was initially a tough sell for spouses and significant others. But the music makes this high-powered, Type A bunch so happy and so centered, they joke that the jam sessions have become their church.

The band is “a great venue for faculty, staff, and students to interact,” head and neck surgeon—and singer and guitarist—Anand K. Devaiah, a MED associate professor of otolaryngology, told BU Today shortly after the band started. Ortega says the ensemble now “lives permanently at the medical school,” and accepts musicians playing any instrument as well as any person moved to sing or clap cymbals. “We’ve had saxophones, violins, Spanish guitar, harmonica, timbales, congas, djembe, and bongos.”

Not only are there no auditions, but band members have been known to call, “C’mon up and join us” to people who poke their heads into the auditorium where they rehearse. Depending on who shows up that day, the band can segue from blues to heavy metal. “We don’t have a recognizable sound,” says Ortega, MED associate dean for diversity and multicultural affairs.

The ensemble is a hit among colleagues and administrators alike. The BUMC Band functions as something of an equalizer—a student might be playing the bass line for his professor of surgery. As for, to put it delicately, the reputedly outsized egos of people in certain professions, these are preempted by the music, the camaraderie, and the sheer fun factor. Ortega has called making music “a laboratory for all of us, to negotiate and make compromises. We must try to keep egos in check.” He describes the band as therapy and says it’s become such a popular diversion that it’s even used as a recruitment tool.

“One faculty member chose our institution so he could play drums,” Ortega says.

This BU Today story was written by

Poverty Expert Sheldon Danziger to Give 2015 Bicknell Lecture

October 20th, 2015 in Featured

Economic inequality, not government programs, cause of stagnant poverty rate

A generation ago, in a now-famous speech to Congress, President Ronald Reagan pronounced antipoverty programs an abject failure.

“The government fought a War on Poverty, and poverty won,” he said.

Critics of the War on Poverty (legislation first proposed by Lyndon Johnson in his 1964 State of the Union address), including some presidential candidates, have echoed that view in recent months, as US Census Bureau figures show the poverty rate has remained relatively stagnant over the past 30 years. The latest report puts the poverty rate last year at 14.8 percent, 2.3 percentage points higher than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession. Median household income in 2014 was reported as $53,657—statistically the same as it was in 2013.

But while some look at those numbers as signs that government safety-net programs have failed, Sheldon Danziger, president of the Russell Sage Foundation, offers a different narrative based on recent social science research. With the benefits of economic growth going to the elite, not the average worker, he says, government programs are the main reason why the poverty rate has not climbed even higher.

“The conventional wisdom is that a rising economic tide lifts all boats. But it no longer works that way,” Danziger says. “The last 40 years have been a period of very slow wage growth and rising inequality.”

Disparities in income lead to disparities in health—a topic that Danziger, one of the country’s top experts on poverty and the social safety net, will explore tomorrow when he delivers the 2015 William J. Bicknell Lecture at the School of Public Health. His talk, Poverty, Public Policy and Public Health, will be followed by a panel discussion with Charles E. Carter, chief strategy officer at the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child; Molly Baldwin, founder and CEO of Roca, Inc., a nonprofit seeking to help young people transform their lives; and pediatrician Perri Klass, a New York University professor of journalism and of pediatrics. They will discuss the question: Should the mission of public health be the eradication of poverty?

Danziger, former Henry J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and director of its National Poverty Center has written and edited a number of books on economic conditions, social programs, and poverty. He views public health as one way to improve the lives of the poor, touting Obamacare as a meaningful antipoverty program.

BU Today spoke with him recently about his views on poverty and public health:

Sheldon Danziger, a leading expert on poverty, says the United States must address growing income inequality to reduce the number of those living in poverty. Photo courtesy of Russell Sage Foundation

Sheldon Danziger, a leading expert on poverty, says the United States must address growing income inequality to reduce the number of those living in poverty. Photo courtesy of Russell Sage Foundation

BU Today: The US Census Bureau’s latest report shows little improvement for American families in the past year. Despite a falling unemployment rate, the median income is not budging. What’s wrong?

Danziger: The main problem, which has been going on for several decades, is that when the economy does improve, as it has for the past few years, the gains from economic growth have been uneven. In the past, when the economy improved, people got called back to work—there were benefits to the average worker. These days, wages don’t necessarily rise when the economy improves. In fact, people going back to work after the recession may earn less money than they did before. Many firms have not provided wage increases, and some are using technology to reduce hours and pay.

You’ve talked about income inequality worsening—that prosperity is no longer widely shared when the economy grows. Can you explain why that is?

We’re in a period of very slow wage growth. At the bottom, wages have not kept up with productivity growth, especially for workers without a college degree. Meanwhile, at the top, the inequality has become so extreme that it will take major tax reform to begin to reduce it.

At some point, incomes at the top began to explode. In 1965, the typical CEO of a major firm made 20 times what the average worker at his or her company made. That increased to 60 times in 1989—and it’s currently at 230. As just one example, consider Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. She was paid more than $100 million during her short tenure as CEO at Hewlett-Packard, including a $65 million signing bonus and $21 million in severance pay.

So we have a situation where the increased productivity of the economy has been captured by the economic elite. This was not the environment that the War on Poverty era was launched in. In other words, poverty has remained high because of the failure of the economy to benefit the average worker—not because of the failure of government programs. Because the economy and poverty programs are working in opposite directions, you end up with a roughly constant poverty rate.

If inequality is the root problem, shouldn’t we be doing more to bring up the people at the bottom?

Certainly, yes. For starters, you could raise the well-being of those at the bottom through higher wages. Workers with a high school degree or less have been left behind: their wages adjusted for inflation are lower than they were 40 years ago.

We could make a significant dent in poverty through a number of public policies—raising the minimum wage, expanding subsidies for child care, increasing the earned income tax credit, launching a subsidized jobs program. All of these steps would help to bring up the bottom and have a modest effect on reducing inequality.

One of the newer policies that certainly has helped is the dramatic increase in insurance coverage under Obamacare. We have good examples of government programs bringing up the bottom; what we don’t have are very good examples of government bringing down inequality at the top.

Would you consider Obamacare an antipoverty program?

Yes. People who were uninsured or paying for their health care now have more money for other goods and services—food, clothing, shelter. It’s less likely that they’re being forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid medical bills.

Having access to health care means people are able to work more. If we discover a disease at an early stage and do something about it, that person can stay in good health and remain productive. It’s clearly the case that there are other government programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid coverage for poor kids, that have led to long-term improvements in health outcomes.

What about health disparities between the rich and poor or minorities and whites? Can government programs fix those?

They can certainly help. Consider what happened when Medicare was passed. There were millions of uninsured elderly people who were going to get covered by Medicare, and the Johnson administration made clear that no Medicare payments would go to segregated hospitals. This led to the eventual desegregation of hospitals throughout the South. There is now research documenting that because of this, large numbers of black women gave birth in hospitals instead of at home, and black infant mortality declined.

Health disparities are tied to poverty rates. Those at the bottom have lower life expectancies, higher unemployment. And the causation goes both ways–people in poor health are less likely to work.

Even within the white population, there are growing disparities by social class. Those disparities are much greater now than they were 30 years ago. There’s a new report by the National Academy of Sciences that suggests a correlation between rising income inequality and the increasing disparities in life expectancy. For males, the estimated life expectancy for 50-year-olds born in 1930 who were in the bottom 20 percent of income was 26.6 years more compared to 31.7 years more for those in the top 20 percent. That’s a five-year difference. Today, it’s 12 and a half years between the poorest and the richest 20 percent. Rising inequality is one of the reasons.

There will always be a bottom rung at elevated health risk. But the question is, can you reduce that risk? That’s the domain of public health, and it’s important.

The 2015 William J. Bicknell Lecture in Public Health is tomorrow, Wednesday, October 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Hiebert Lounge at the School of Medicine Instructional Building, 72 East Concord St. The event is free and open to the public. The lectureship is named in honor of the late William J. Bicknell, founder and chair emeritus of the SPH international health department.

This BU Today story was written by Lisa Chedekel, She can be reached at

BU Awarded $23.4 Million NIH Grant

October 7th, 2015 in Featured, Research

For turning discoveries into treatments, diagnostics, improved health

David Center directs Boston University’s Clinical & Translational Science Institute, which received an NIH renewal grant to help investigators on both campuses conduct multidisciplinary clinical research. Photo by Cydney Scott

David Center directs Boston University’s Clinical & Translational Science Institute, which received an NIH renewal grant to help investigators on both campuses conduct multidisciplinary clinical research. Photo by Cydney Scott

BU’s Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has been awarded a $23.4 million, four-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) renewal grant to train and support scientists across both campuses in conducting cutting-edge clinical research and turning their discoveries into treatments, diagnostics, and improved public health.

CTSI is part of a national network of translational science institutes at some 60 medical research universities that have been established by the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA). NIH created the program in 2006 to speed the translation of biomedical advances into better health care. All members of the CTSA network—among them Harvard, Tufts, and the University of Massachusetts—share research tools and innovations.

“By providing our researchers with resources, infrastructure, and funding, BU’s Clinical & Translational Science Institute supports innovation and discovery that may improve health, diagnosis, or treatment,” says Karen Antman, provost of the Medical Campus and dean of the School of Medicine. “We are delighted to be awarded this grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the NIH to support BU’s outstanding investigators and increase cross-fertilization between bedside and bench.”

While CTSI is based on the Medical Campus, its resources, including pilot grants funded by the award, are available to investigators across the University. “One of the great advantages we have at BU is exceptionally strong faculty in the life sciences and biomedical engineering who have the potential to collaborate with both clinical and basic science faculty in the medical school,” says Gloria Waters, BU vice president and associate provost for research. “BU CTSI, along with other initiatives we are embarking upon, provides much needed resources and infrastructure to help our faculty make connections across our two campuses. The collaborations and the infrastructure that are developed as a result of this grant will have a very real impact on our ability to facilitate translation of biomedical advances into improved care for patients.”

Under the leadership of CTSI director David Center (MED’72), associate provost for translational research, BU has received two NIH clinical translational research awards since 2008. “These were meant to be, and still are, grants that build the infrastructure of the University to help scientists do science better—and do better science,” says Center, the Gordon and Ruth Snider Professor of Pulmonary Medicine at MED and chief of pulmonary, allergy, sleep, and critical care medicine at Boston Medical Center (BMC). Center says the awards have been the foundation for a number of BU investigators—especially those in the early stages of their careers—to successfully apply for other types of federal funding.

The renewal awards also enable CTSI to provide research support for core facilities for clinical trials, biomedical informatics, pilot funding, help in navigating the regulatory system, and biostatistics, epidemiology, and research design. Center says the awards can help CTSI connect researchers with BMC patients, a large percentage of whom are underserved minorities at risk of multiple chronic diseases. The NIH considers these patients, and their health, integral to the mission of translational research.

“Translation can occur on multiple levels, not just from the bench to the bedside, but from the bedside to patients, from patients to the community—and it all flows back and forth,” says CTSI associate director David Felson (SPH’84), a MED professor of medicine and epidemiology, and section chief of the BMC clinical epidemiology research and training unit. “It also occurs from knowing something works that’s been tested in trials and actually getting it into the community where it’s given to people.”

Additionally, the award will help advance regenerative medicine at BU. Under the supervision of Darrell Kotton, a founding director of the University’s Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM), the award will provide for six predoctoral students and four postdocs to receive advanced training in any University laboratory—it could be pediatrics, orthopedic surgery, hematology, or any number of other medical fields, Center says—that is engaged in stem cell research and regenerative medicine.

“This training program will prepare the next generation of scientists and physician-scientists to work with stem cells to advance this new technology toward clinical application,” says Kotton, a MED professor of medicine and pathology and a BMC attending physician in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

Most important, says Kotton, whose lab studies cystic fibrosis, emphysema, and other pulmonary diseases, the award “will help support open-source sharing of Boston University’s expansive bank of pluripotent stem cell lines generated from patients who have the diseases that we and other BU CTSI partners across the country study.

“We hope this stem cell bank and our capacity to make new stem cell lines for national sharing will provide the tools to better understand and treat these diseases in the years ahead,” he adds. “In this way, the award stands to benefit many universities across the country that participate in our shared mission of improving human health.”

A key part of the CTSI mission is fostering collaboration across many disciplines and across both campuses, says Center, “whether those collaborations are spurred by money in the form of pilot awards or new grants or by an individual who identifies someone in any other department doing work that might be applicable to their own.”

“We’re free to give our money as an investment to anyone across the University,” Center says. “BU CTSI’s idea is for creating unencumbered money that would be multidisciplinary and cross schools and departments. It doesn’t mean money is given without review or without strings attached. But with us, if you’ve got a good translation idea—fine. We support junior and senior investigators.”

Collaboration is one of the cornerstones of the CTSI training program, which educates young physician-scientists and other junior faculty across the University in cutting-edge, multidisciplinary translational research methods. Researchers today should be “conversant and capable in thinking about a broad range of methodologies and to be able to communicate and interact in an interdisciplinary fashion,” says Felson.

One way CTSI training encourages this sort of creativity is by holding seminars where physician-scientists and other investigators from a broad range of disciplines—cardiologists, pulmonary physicians, epidemiologists, biomedical engineers, and others—share their research findings. “They’ll be sitting in their own research world—in their own little silo—and they listen to someone doing something vastly different from them,” Felson says. “They realize, this isn’t my question that I’m pursuing, but their approach has great relevance to me.

“The future is multidisciplinary—familiarity with a lot of different research methods and an open mind about how to bring in and work with collaborators,” he says.

CTSI training also focuses on the more practical aspects of succeeding as a researcher: how to write a paper, how to write a grant, how to connect with and communicate with your mentor.

For CTSI, a major part of the NIH award will be targeted at more quickly and efficiently launching and conducting clinical trials. “We are charged to grease the wheels of a very slow and cumbersome national clinical trials network,” Center says. “We aim to shorten the Institutional Review Board [IRB] process and to assist in the efficient enrollment and retention of subjects in trials and in all the steps along the way, from identification of the need for the trial to data analysis.” As part of this, CTSI supports researchers by providing free consultation services on clinical research study design; facilities, skilled nursing, and help in enrolling subjects for clinical trials; biostatistics and bioinformatics; and hands-on assistance in navigating the obstacles that come with the often cumbersome but necessary regulatory system that oversees clinical trials.

“The overall goal is to provide resources for sharing research discoveries and tools to train researchers to translate their basic discoveries into treatments and diagnostics,” Center says. “We are in constant search of ways to expedite processes involved in clinical trials. We don’t want scientists to have to do everything themselves or reinvent the translational research wheels over and over.”

Part of complying with the necessary regulations, which are intended to protect human subjects as well as investigators, means obtaining IRB approval to run clinical trials. “BU’s process is similar to other universities, but the levels of expertise in running clinical trials and navigating the regulatory systems of our clinical researchers vary widely,” Center says. “The BU CTSI aims to help inexperienced researchers get through that process as efficiently as possible.

“We give advice to researchers so they don’t make mistakes when they write the protocol,” he says. “We help them with the consent form. We make sure it’s translated into Spanish if that’s appropriate and they’re enrolling people who don’t speak English. We give them advice on how to respond to the IRB’s concerns. But we don’t manage or influence the IRB. It is an independent body, and it should be.

“What we aim to do,” Center says, “is to simplify the complexities of translational research—that is, research involving human beings—make it more efficient, and make the science better.”

This BU Today story was written by Sara Rimer.