April 26, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 15

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    NIH awards $13 million to Clinical Research Center

    By John Easton
    Medical Center Public Affairs

    The University has received a $13.2 million grant from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health to fund its General Clinical Research Center for the next five years. This is the largest grant in the history of the GCRC, one of the oldest such facilities in the United States and one of only three in Illinois. The Center has enjoyed continuous NIH support since 1961.

    The grant funds specialized facilities, staff and resources that act as a center for clinical research. The GCRC is currently involved in more than 80 different investigations being conducted by more than 100 University faculty, staff and trainees.

    “This is a time of enormous promise for clinical research,” said Murray Favus, Professor in Medicine and Program Director of the General Clinical Research Center. “There has been rapid progress in understanding the basic science of human health and disease. Before that knowledge can begin to have an impact on human health, it has to be thoughtfully applied and carefully tested in a controlled clinical setting such as this.”

    The GCRC provides specialized research and patient-care space and is staffed by skilled nurses and trained research staff. Currently, 34 University and Hospital faculty and staff are partly or fully supported by the grant.

    The center includes eight inpatient beds as well as a four-bed outpatient unit, a metabolic kitchen, on-site laboratories to collect and analyze blood and other samples and a specially designed sleep-study unit. The center also provides crucial biostatistical and data-management support to researchers.

    The NIH grant will support such new features as greater informatics support, renovation of the metabolic kitchen to enable more precise preparation of special meals and a cell-line facility to support expanding interest in genetic research.

    “Many of the newer GCRC projects are inspired by the explosion of knowledge in genetics,” said Favus. Examples include a new emphasis on the genetics of psychiatric disorders, groundbreaking research on the pharmacogenetics of cancer drugs and a University-based multicenter study on the genetics of susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease.

    Hundreds of volunteer patients come to the center each year to participate in studies of normal biological processes, abnormalities caused by medical conditions and trials of innovative therapies for everything from cancer to diabetes to osteoporosis.

    Last year, the center hosted more than 1,200 outpatient visits and 600 overnight stays.

    The University’s institutional review board and the GCRC advisory committee approve all clinical research that strictly adheres to federal guidelines for studies involving humans.