A five-year, $61.7 million grant to the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons will help medical researchers speed the application of scientific discoveries, so that new treatments can be delivered to patients faster.
The grant, awarded by the National Institutes of Health, is one of the largest ever to the medical school. It will support the work of the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, led by Muredach Reilly, MBBCh, MSCE, professor of medicine and associate dean for clinical and translational research. The Institute works in partnership with researchers and clinicians across Columbia University Irving Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute to support all phases of clinical and translational science.
The infusion of federal funding addresses a critical need in medical research. In labs at Columbia and at other universities across the nation, important scientific discoveries are made almost every day. But it typically takes a decade or more for a new scientific discovery to result in a new drug, medical device, or diagnostic tool. In 2006 the NIH launched a nationwide effort to identify and overcome scientific and organizational barriers that slow the movement of discoveries from the lab bench to the patient. The program, called the Clinical and Translational Science Award Program, today funds translational research “hubs” at more than 50 universities.
The funding has enabled the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research to establish more than 70 services and programs to help Columbia researchers translate medical discoveries into treatments, including:
- Training, mentoring, and one-on-one consultation to researchers. The Irving Institute trained over 2,200 individuals and provided more than 3,300 consultations to researchers since 2016.
- Access to research facilities, infrastructure, and specialized equipment that may not be available in a researcher’s own lab or department.
- Seed funding, including $4 million for pilot projects that enable researchers to generate preliminary data that can be used in applying for larger grants.
- Assistance in launching clinical trials to test new therapies and diagnostic tools.
The Irving Institute also provided funding for the development of RecruitMe, an online registry for people interested in volunteering for clinical trials led by Columbia researchers. More than 30,000 people have signed up to participate.
The new infusion of funding from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science at the NIH will enable the Irving Institute to develop new programs, including a Research Navigation System to help match the needs of individual researchers and research teams to resources and services available at Columbia. The Institute will also offer expanded training opportunities and a “data concierge service” that will link researchers with experts in biostatistics, biomedical informatics, and data science. They will also engage community leaders as “ambassadors” to promote research that improves community health.
Columbia University was first awarded a CTSA grant in 2006, and the grant has been renewed every five years since then, with funding totaling over $200 million through 2026. This year’s application for funding renewal received a perfect overall score from the NIH’s review committee.
Comments on the funding award:
Muredach P. Reilly, MBBCh MSCE, Principal Investigator and Director, Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research: “On behalf of all our partners, I am delighted and honored that we achieved a perfect score at peer review for this 5-year renewal cycle of our CTSA. I am proud of our outstanding team and our partners at the Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian, New York State Psychiatric Institute, and across the University, as well as our regional and national collaborators, for their support and future commitments. Standing on the shoulders of the institution and building on our prior success, we have established innovative plans for the next five years to create novel scientific advances, through multiple programs, trainings, multidisciplinary initiatives and more. A key focus will be expansion of our interdisciplinary team approach across the hub, expanded participatory engagement with communities in Washington Heights, Inwood, South Bronx, and Harlem, along with new partnerships regionally and nationally, to achieve our goal to translate research to practice locally, nationally and across the world.”
Lee C. Bollinger, President, Columbia University: “The pace and breadth of discovery in biomedical research has the potential to transform medicine. To deliver on that promise, we must expand our capacity to translate new knowledge into new tools and treatments. We’re deeply grateful to the National Institutes of Health for their support of this vital work.”
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (NY): “I am thankful that Columbia University's Irving Institute, one of the nation's leading centers for clinical research, has received this well-deserved additional funding. The Institute has gained national recognition for its programs, and the grant will continue the Institute's mission to improve the health and well-being of our State's communities through innovations in clinical and translational science."
U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13): “The Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) has been a leader in clinical research, development of biomedical technologies, and advancements in translational science. Renewal of the Clinical and Translational Science Award to the Herbert and Florence Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, a partnership of CUIMC and NewYork-Presbyterian, recognizes the scientific advancements of talented scientists and researchers and confidence that CUIMC will continue to shape the health and wellbeing of my constituents and patients around the world.”
Anil K. Rustgi, MD, Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine: “Under Dr. Reilly’s leadership, the Irving Institute has established a world class program to accelerate the application of medical discoveries, and especially to engage underserved populations in the clinical research process. These efforts are fundamental to our mission to integrate research, teaching, clinical care, and community service at Columbia.”
Steven J. Corwin, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, NewYork-Presbyterian: “The Irving Institute is advancing research that saves lives and improves the quality of life for our patients and the communities we serve. We are proud to partner with Columbia to help develop new innovative treatments for complex medical problems and bring these advances from the lab to the bedside faster. This grant will allow us to continue the important work of accelerating medical innovation for all.”
Nabila El-Bassel, PhD, the Willma and Albert Musher Professor of Social Work: "The Irving Institute engages in outstanding impactful research for the most vulnerable members of our society, and I value its promotion of multidisciplinary research collaboration within Columbia. Collaborating with the Irving Institute with the HEALing Communities Study (HCS) provided important insights for both HCS and for our new Center for Healing of Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders – Enhancing Intervention, Development and Implementation (CHOSEN), helping inform both their community-based strategies and implementation research."