DHHS, NIH News  
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Joyce McDonald
and Ann Puderbaugh

Charles Casey
UC Davis Health System

Karen Pridmore
Department of Veterans Affairs

NIH Funds New General Clinical Research Center In Sacramento

Bethesda, Maryland — The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today it will fund a new General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) with the University of California, Davis at the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center. NCRR will award about $5.5 million to support five years of clinical research at the new GCRC including operating expenses, hospitalization and ancillary laboratory costs, and salaries of key personnel.

The new center will join the national network of 80 other GCRCs that provide optimal settings for medical investigators to conduct safe, controlled, state-of-the-art, in-patient and out-patient studies of both children and adults. The Sacramento GCRC will focus on areas of clinical research that reflect the scientific strengths at UC Davis and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) including AIDS, cancer, vascular biology, bone metabolism, and neuroscience. Proposed clinical trials for the new GCRC include the study of mucosal immunity, one of the key issues in HIV vaccine development; research into a newly identified neurodegenerative disorder that strikes males over 50 who possess the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene; and a test of the effectiveness of isoflavone-rich soy extract in protecting the bones of postmenopausal women.

“We are pleased to support the collaboration between these two esteemed institutions so that they can create a vibrant and dynamic clinical research community in the Sacramento area,” said NCRR Director Judith L. Vaitukaitis, M.D. “It is our hope the new GCRC will serve as a critical catalyst to expand and focus the many research initiatives already in place at UC Davis and VA.”

The UC Davis Medical School has been affiliated with the Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System (VANCHCS) since 1974, with all medical students, residents and fellows completing clinical rotations at the veterans’ facility. In keeping with the mission of this NIH-sponsored program, this GCRC will extend its mentoring initiatives to foster development of the clinical research skills of physicians and dentists to enhance their ability to become independent, clinical/patient-oriented investigators.

“This is an honor and a terrific opportunity to increase the type of work we’ve been doing for years,” said Dr. Joseph Silva, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine. “Research is the foundation for improving medical care, and being part of this national network means now we have an even better ability to explore ways to prevent and treat diseases and disabilities that affect everyone’s health.”

The University of California, Davis Health System (UCDHS) and the VANCHCS serve a highly diverse region approximately the size of Pennsylvania, with a population of over four million people. The two institutions have been developing the necessary infrastructure for the new GCRC since March 2000. A state-of-the-art clinical research unit was constructed, with 7,500 square feet designated for the GCRC clinic, lab and administrative space.

The center will be managed and administered by UC Davis faculty and staff with Lars Berglund, professor of medicine and assistant dean for clinical research at the UC Davis School of Medicine and a physician at VANCHCS, serving as program director at the new center.

Investigators who have research project funding from NIH and other peer-reviewed sources may use GCRCs so they can benefit from collaborative, multidisciplinary research opportunities. To ensure research diversity at the GCRCs, no single group of investigators at a center may utilize more than 33 percent of the resources. Last year, the GCRC network supported almost 12,000 research scientists who pursued more than 7,800 studies. A complete list of GCRCs is available in the Clinical Research Resources Directory (http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/ncrrprog/clindir/crdirectory.asp). GCRCs also offer opportunities in career development (http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/clinical/cr_crcd.asp).

NCRR is part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. NCRR is the nation’s leading federal sponsor of resources that enable advances in many areas of biomedical research. NCRR support provides the scientific research community with access to a diverse array of biomedical research technologies, instrumentation, specialized basic and clinical research facilities, animal models, genetic stocks, and such biomaterials as cell lines, tissues, and organs. Additional information about NCRR can be found at www.ncrr.nih.gov.

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