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The mission of Columbia University Medical Center’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) is to transform the culture of research to hasten the discovery and implementation of new treatments and prevention strategies.  

Our core objective is to move the Columbia University (CU) research community to a more multi- and interdisciplinary scientific mindset by removing barriers and creating incentives for interactions among investigators from different disciplines.  The first step towards reaching this goal was the establishment of the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research—the academic home for clinical and translational research at Columbia.  Irving Institute faculty include some of Columbia’s most accomplished, senior researchers who provide leadership and serve as mentors for junior faculty, fellows, and trainees.  The resources provided by the Irving Institute offer support in biomedical informatics,  biostatistics and research design, data management, bioethics, regulatory issues, core laboratory facilities, community engagement, pilot funding, education and career development, plus a fully-staffed Clinical Research Resource for campus investigators.

The Irving Institute’s headquarters occupies the entire 10th floor of two connected buildings, the Presbyterian Hospital and the Harkness Pavilion.  The total space occupied is approximately 25,000 square feet (ft2).  The administrative suite occupies 1,200 ft2 at the center of the overall space.  Immediately adjacent are both the Adult Outpatient Unit (2,450 ft2) and the Adult Inpatient Unit (6,000 ft2).  Across the hall are 690 ft2 of space dedicated to a Bionutrition Unit.  In June 2010, we finalized the construction of a 2,200 square-foot, state-of-the-art educational center on PH-10-Stem.  A 400 ft2 conference room and 5,000 ft2 Biomarkers Core laboratory and office space round out our attractive research location.

The Irving Institute is comprised of eleven (11) key functions, or ‘Resources,’ that are available to the Columbia University research community:

  • Biomedical Informatics Resource (BMIR).  Provides informatics services to CU investigators and conducts original informatics research in the basic and applied translational domains. BMIR integrates existing informatics resources across campus and within the Irving Institute.  The Clinical Data Warehouse navigator assists investigators in requesting clinical data to determine availability of potential research participants. Through the CUSP (Columbia University Scientific Profiles) social ‘profile’ network, investigators can identify and connect with potential co-investigators for multi-disciplinary research studies. BMIR’s development of the Integrated Model for Patient Care and Clinical Trials (IMPACT) simplifies clinical trial participant visit scheduling.
  • Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD).  Brings together outstanding investigators from biostatistics and epidemiology who work together to assist with clinical and translational (C/T) research study design, statistical advice, and data management.  BERD has provided more than 1500 consults since its inception.  In addition, BERD is developing educational offerings customized for research study teams and the Washington Heights/Inwood and Harlem communities.
  • Community Engagement Core Resource (CECR).  Fosters research conducted in partnership with community stakeholders to better inform the application of scientific findings to clinical and community settings. A key area of innovation is CECR’s off-campus home, the Columbia Community Partnership for Health (CCPH), located just 10 blocks north of the medical campus and steps away from the George Washington Bridge and public transportation, in the midst of our Washington Heights neighborhood. CCPH provides free space for health related activities to Columbia University investigators and community groups and is designed to facilitate the health information and research needs of our community residents, social service and community-based organizations, and CUMC researchers. CECR supports community-engaged research between CUMC researchers, multi-sector stakeholders, and the community at-large through the Community Based Participatory Research Scholars and Awards program, the Health Literacy Review Service, health lectures, and the Get Healthy Heights and Get Healthy Harlem websites.
  • Clinical Research Resource (CRR).  Builds upon the former General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) structure with adult and pediatric inpatient and outpatient units, highly-trained research nurses, phlebotomy services and facilities.  In addition, we have extended “outside the walls” of the GCRC by providing support for research in other areas of CUMC (NICU, PICU, Neuro ICU, and ERs).  The CRR is the major provider of resources for the actual conduct of patient-oriented research on campus.  Over 100 CUMC research faculty utilize our inpatient and outpatient resources each year.
  • Integrating Special Populations Resource (ISP).  Started in 2016, ISP focuses on four special populations – Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Rare Diseases and HIV. The goals of ISP are to foster collaborations, both within and across each special population, to study diseases across the lifespan, utilize rare diseases as tools to study more common diseases, increase dissemination of results, as well as creating culturally sensitive engagement, recruitment, and educational tools to facilitate ISP-based research in Northern Manhattan. ISP offers a pilot award program providing up to four grants each year, as well as a seminar series.
  • Pilot and Collaborative Studies Resource (PCSR).  Provides funds for C/T research initiatives, including pilot awards to junior investigators, and grants in support of both C/T research and C/T methodology.  Pilot programs include:
    • The Irving Institute/Clinical Trials Office (CTO) pilot award is jointly administered by the CTO and awards up to sixteen grants each year.  Recently, the program has cultivated partnerships with the various departments on campus who provide ‘matching funds’ to these promising researchers. 
    • The CaMPR(Collaborative and Multidisciplinary Pilot Research) awards program has stimulated senior and junior faculty to join together in creating new and novel teams to tackle research questions that require a multidisciplinary approach.  Up to four Phase I planning grants are awarded each year.  Of these four planning grants, a second competition is conducted whereby up to two final Phase II grants are selected.
    • CaMPR-Basic (Collaborative and Multidisciplinary Pilot Research Award for Basic Science and C/T) awards offer support for collaborations between researchers from the basic science departments at CUMC or the Morningside Campus and C/T investigators at CUMC. Up to two awards are funded annually.
    • Irving Institute/Department of Biomedical Informatics Health Practice Research Pilot Awards support translational research that applies operational interventions such as information technology, operations research and simulations to improve the practice of health care. Assuming availability of funding, up to two awards are given annually.
    • The Imaging Pilot Award Program provides funding for junior investigators employing functional imaging (PET and MRI human and animal studies).
  • Precision Medicine Resource (PMR)Supports both discovery and implementation science and heavily utilizes interdisciplinary input from basic science researchers, clinicians from all specialties, laboratory medicine scientists, human genomicists, informaticians and mathematicians, health information technology experts, health educators, and policy makers. Each year PMR funds up to five pilot awards and up to two fellowships, and also hosts the Advancing Precision Medicine seminar series and special guest lectures.
  • Regulatory Knowledge and Support/Clinical Research Ethics Resource (RKSER).  Unifies existing but isolated groups at CUMC to enhance regulatory education, compliance, and ethics. RKSER works closely with the Clinical Trials Office and the Human Research Protection Office to provide investigators with assistance in moving the research process forward.  The Ethics Resource provides consultations and offers a seminar series on topics of ethics and research.
  • TRANSFORM (TRaining And Nurturing Scientists FOr Research that is Multidisciplinary).  The Irving Institute’s educational resource administers the interdisciplinary master’s, pre-doctoral, postdoctoral and career development programs.  By nurturing and training the next generation of translational and clinical researchers to effectively work on interdisciplinary teams, TRANSFORM activities help to change and improve the culture of research at CUMC and speed the process of research and discovery for the improvement of public health. TRANSFORM offers an array of integrated educational programs including a multidisciplinary, patient-oriented research master’s degree for fellows and junior faculty; a multidisciplinary, mentored KL2 research program for junior faculty; a TL1 training program with three distinct tracks for doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and a summer program; and short-term training for novice investigators.  The following programs are open to faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students in all schools at CUMC: 
    • The KL2 program provides career support for Assistant Professors who are conducting interdisciplinary research; they receive salary support as well as funding for education and their research.
    • The TL1 program provides scholars with additional research training to prepare for an academic research career that can contribute in a meaningful way to understanding risk of disease, improving diagnosis and prevention, and tailoring treatment based on an individual’s variation in genes, environment, and/or lifestyle. The TL1 program for doctoral students provides two years of research training that runs simultaneously with students’ ongoing doctoral training. The postdoctoral fellow TL1 provides two years of support to participate in an integrated didactic and mentored training program. The 12-week summer TL1 program provides doctoral students with a stipend with the expectation of attending didactic training and participating in experiential learning.
    • The 30-credit master’s degree program in Patient Oriented Research is designed specifically for clinical and translational scientists, and covers study design, analysis, and grant writing skills.  A key requirement of the MS/POR program is the completion of an independent grant application, usually in R01- or K23-format, submitted as a master’s thesis. 
    • Reach for the First R01, a short-term training opportunity, is available twice a year to Columbia’s most promising junior faculty. Each term, approximately 4-6 faculty members are selected for training in the submission of their first R01 application, and receive biostatistical consulting, access to other Irving Institute resources, two expert pre-reviews on an early draft of their R01 application, and a rigorous bimonthly meeting to ensure structure and timeliness in completing the tasks required to successfully submit a first application.
    • The Columbia Summer Research Institute (CSRI), another short-term training opportunity, provides fundamental skills in research design and statistical analysis for patient oriented research. Within the five week program, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty from clinical and translational disciplines earn academic course credit while experiencing the quality and rigor that characterize graduate training at Columbia University.
  • Translational Therapeutics Resource (TRx).  Created in 2016, this new Resource is an accelerator program designed to leverage Columbia’s proficiency in drug discovery and provide access to entrepreneurs and the pharmaceutical industry to advance novel therapeutics from the lab towards the path of commercialization and clinical implementation. TRx offers an annual Boot Camp and pilot award program, in addition to a seminar series.
  • Trial Innovation Network (TIN)Launched in 2016, the Irving Institute’s CTSA Hub Liaison Team provides direct access to the new national CTSA Trial Innovation Network, developed to address critical roadblocks in clinical trials and accelerate the translation of novel interventions into life-saving therapies. The goal of TIN is to be a national laboratory to study, understand, and innovate the process of conducting clinical trials.
  

The Irving Institute also features an integrated Evaluation and Continuous Improvement (ECI) team that supports the ongoing evaluation of research and educational activities within the entire Institute, and for each of the key functions. ECI also leads the implementation of the CTSA Common Metrics initiative at Columbia.

In addition to activities directly related to the CTSA, the Irving Institute offers approximately four named professorships each year – the Irving Assistant Professorships.  Recognizing the critical importance of training young clinical investigators, Herbert and Florence Irving designated a major portion of the Irving Endowment for these professorships, usually referred to as the “Irving Scholars”. These prestigious awards provide substantial unrestricted funds for three years to the most promising Assistant Professors at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. The Institute has awarded over $17 million to more than 120 faculty since 1987.