Grants include autism, COVID-19

The University of Minnesota announced one of the largest federal grants in its history, $54 million, that will transform how […]

Image of virus under microscope

The University of Minnesota announced one of the largest federal grants in its history, $54 million, that will transform how it can hasten medical research into everyday clinical use. 

The U’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has subsisted on federal funding for a decade, but the renewal application was different this time — requiring that recipients make deeper connections with surrounding communities, and evaluating their success by whether they improve health in those communities. 
“This is different,” said Dr. Bruce Blazar, CTSI’s director. “We have to measure impact. It’s not the number of publications anymore. It’s, ’How have you impacted health?’ That is one of the fundamental criteria.” 

The institute is one of 60 in the United States supported by federal funding to expedite research discoveries into clinical care. 

Blazar said the institute will use the new direction to build on its successes, which include the recent discovery of metformin as an available, low-cost therapy for long COVID-19. 

Researchers at the institute also piloted a telemedicine support option for kids with autism, and developed immune-boosting therapies for patients with colon cancer. 
Federal grant money will fund coordinators to connect with minority and rural communities with limited health care access to identify their needs and gain their trust and participation in research. 

The funding also provides an opportunity to “course correct,” he said, and address the history of institutional racism and research abuses that has discouraged minority interest in preventive health care and medical research. 

(Source: Star Tribune)

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