UCSF 2015 NIH Funding: A Look at the Researchers Behind the Numbers

CTSI Director Jennifer Grandis, MD

Full story on UCSF.edu

By Mitzi Baker and Mike Billings

UC San Francisco received more than $560.4 million in highly competitive funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2015 to advance our research across our schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and the Graduate Division.

Behind each grant and contract are researchers working to advance scientific discovery and push toward better treatments and cures for patients.

Below are highlights of some researchers who received the most funding and how their NIH grants can change the future of health.

Centers & Institutes

1.  Clinical and Translational Science Institute (PI: Jennifer Grandis), $22,258,000

2.  Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (PI: Alan Ashworth), $8,368,760

3.  Autoimmunity Center of Excellence (PI: David Wofsy), $6,426,855

4.  HARC Center: HIV Accessory and Regulatory Complexes (PI: Alan Frankel), $4,285,496

5.  UCSF-GVI Center for AIDS Research (PI: Paul A. Volberding), $3,078,540

Improvements in patient and community health require the rapid translation of research from theory into clinical practice. Clinical research involves human subjects, from surveys on one end of the spectrum to administering an investigational new drug and monitoring for side effects at the other end. Translational medicine converts scientific discoveries into health improvement.

The Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI), established in 2006, provides services and tools to clinical and translational investigators at UCSF and beyond.

One large component of CTSI is training for junior faculty and pre-professional students, residents and fellows that is focused on precision health, says Jennifer Grandis, MD, who joined UCSF last year to direct the institute. “It is a way to gather all the information about an individual – from genetics and many other sources – to understand that information in the context of what’s available in our clinical toolkit to guide therapy,” she says.

Beyond training resources, the CTSI supports research in a dazzling variety of ways, from digital health resources and expert consultation to providing partnerships and funding. They have strong connections with the other UC health campuses, enabling a California-wide health record database containing 14 million searchable records and knocking down walls between the campuses for enrollment in clinical studies.

“Our goal is to be able to quickly deliver the most cutting-edge hypothesis-driven treatments to our patients across California,” says Grandis.

One CTSI project aims to integrate information from thousands of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and illustrates how research can sort out differences between individuals to guide therapy. The work resulted in a tool to help understand disease progression and choose optimal therapy based on individual prognostic MS biomarkers. The CTSI provided initial pilot funding and is currently assisting in rolling out the tool to patient clinics.

“As a practicing clinician before I came to UCSF, I had to rely solely on literature and instinct for treating the patients in front of me,” says Grandis. “By integrating many data points, we at the CTSI aim to guide clinical decision-making.”

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