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Background: NIH Clinical and Translational Science (CTSA) Awards

What is clinical and translational science?

Clinical and translational science refers to research that bridges the gap between basic, or "bench," research and clinical, or "bedside," research.

Bench research happens in laboratories and is focused on exploring the most basic functions of living systems, from humans down to single cell organisms. It may focus on a particular cellular substance or function, or a system in the body, and often uses model systems like human or animal cells, simple organisms like fruit flies or yeast, or higher animals like mice and rats.

Clinical research involves human subjects who volunteer to take part in scientific studies. Clinical research happens in hospitals, doctors' offices and communities. It includes trials that test new treatments and therapies as well as observational studies that help physicians see how disease changes over time and whether medications, lifestyle adjustments or other interventions affect it. Clinical research also involves taking proven research and finding ways to implement it to improve care.

Translational science is the link between these two disciplines. It is about translating discoveries that scientists have made in the lab to develop real treatments that help patients. Translational science can also move in the other direction, when observations made at the patient's bedside stimulate new areas to explore in the lab.

Does the UI already engage in clinical and translational science?

Yes. The University of Iowa has several established research programs in clinical and translational science, in areas including lung disease, cancer, advanced imaging, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology and nanotechnology, to name a few.

What is the Clinical and Translational Science Award?

The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) is a five-year, $33.8 million award granted by the National Institutes of Health to an elite group of biomedical research institutions to improve the efficiency, speed and volume of clinical and translational research across the United States. The NIH established these grants as part of its "Roadmap for Medical Research" to help develop new treatments more efficiently.

The UI is one of only about 25 centers in the United States to have received a CTSA so far. Upon receiving the grant, each institution becomes part of a consortium designed to transform how clinical and translational research is conducted, ultimately enabling researchers to provide new treatments more efficiently and quickly to patients. For more information, visit the CTSA consortium Web site at:

The CTSA granted to the UI is the funding source that will support the university's Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (see ICTS backgrounder at The CTSA is the second-largest award ever made to the University of Iowa.

For more information, see these Web pages:

National Institutes of Health CTSA Web site:

National Institutes of Health CTSA consortium Web site:

NIH Roadmap Web site, with specific information about translational science: