Georgetown University Medical Center and Howard University Receive $38.2 Million NIH Grant to Form Center for Clinical and Translational Science

Posted in News Release

WASHINGTON, DC — In support of a critical partnership between Georgetown University Medical Center and Howard University, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $38.2 million Clinical and Translational Sciences Award to aid the universities’ effort to transform health care and preventive practices in communities through medical discoveries made in laboratories and clinical settings. 

The two Washington institutions will form the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS).  The $38.2 million grant will be provided to the universities over five years, beginning July 2010.

As part of the GHUCCTS, researchers will collaborate with MedStar Health/MedStar Health Research Institute  in Hyattsville, Md., Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center to form one of the nation’s largest biomedical and clinical research networks.

The Center will be led jointly by Joseph Verbalis, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Georgetown, and Thomas Mellman, MD, professor of psychiatry and associate dean for clinical and translational research at Howard.  They will serve as principal investigators.

Additional staff and faculty from each of the collaborating institutions will also contribute to the leadership of the Center.  The grant will support 109 positions, including faculty, research staff, administration and nursing.

“The GHUCCTS underscores our commitment not only to excellent biomedical research, but to rapidly translating research findings that can impact our broader community,” says Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center and Executive Dean of its School of Medicine.  “This highly collaborative network will make significant contributions to scientific knowledge and should impact human health by better informing our decisions about prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases.”

“The GHUCCTS extends Howard University Health Sciences’ commitment to research that addresses the disparities that affect diverse and underserved populations,” says Robert E. Taylor, MD, PhD, dean of the College of Medicine at Howard University and professor of pharmacology, medicine and psychiatry.  “It also provides a vehicle for further integrating research with the educational and service missions of our institution.” 

“The collaboration of multiple major teaching hospitals in the Washington, DC area will create one of the largest clinical research networks in the country, says Verbalis of Georgetown.  “We will creatively combine considerable institutional strengths and talents in ways to enable the application of a larger breadth of resources for clinical and translational research than are available at each of our individual institutions.” 

The Center builds on long-standing relationships between Howard and Georgetown, and incorporates respective strengths of both institutions, Mellman says.

“We’ve also partnered with three strong collaborators to create an unprecedented research partnership,” he says.  “It is our expectation the Center will stimulate significant scientific discoveries that will provide health benefits to the diverse communities of the Washington metropolitan area and the nation.”

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), a long-standing advocate for the health care needs of District residents, says the new Center allows physicians and researchers to effectively address issues of those who historically have been underserved.
“This vital collaboration between Georgetown University and Howard University is unique in its deliberate and thoughtful focus on clinically important research that will directly impact underserved populations in the District including minorities, the aged and disabled,” she says.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a program of the U.S. Department of Energy, is a science and technology laboratory.  Oak Ridge is home to the world’s premier center for high performance supercomputing to enable scientific discovery. Oak Ridge’s partnership with the GHUCCTS will offer unparalleled opportunity in high speed high volume computing to develop novel translational methodologies in drug discovery and genome-environment interactions.

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit community-based healthcare organization based in the Baltimore/Washington, DC area and is the largest healthcare system in the mid-Atlantic region.  With a network of nine hospitals, seven of which are teaching hospitals, and 20 other healthcare businesses throughout the region, its collaboration with the GHUCCTS will transform one of the largest healthcare networks in the mid-Atlantic region into one of the largest clinical research networks in the country.  MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, which has facilitated biomedical research for the NIH and other federal agencies for 39 years, with a track record of conducting research in underserved communities.  In addition, MedStar Health Research Institute includes a long-standing program of outstanding biomedical-epidemiologic investigations particularly in cardiovascular disease in underserved and understudied populations throughout the country.

The Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center is a tertiary care teaching facility that provides acute general and specialized services in medicine, surgery, neurology and psychiatry.  The Medical Center brings to the GHUCCTS well-established strengths in clinical research, particularly in areas related to aging, rehabilitation and recovery from trauma, state-of-the-art electronic medical record systems and collaborative ties to other Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science Aims

The goal of translational science is to translate laboratory findings into the clinic to benefit patients.  One of the aims of the GHUCCTS is to accelerate improvements in human health through innovative and multidisciplinary research.  The Center will also stimulate clinical and translational research with underserved populations, in the Washington region and nationally, prominently including minorities, the aged and the disabled.

“The Novel Translational Methodologies component of the Center will connect clinical investigators with collaborators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in order to apply state-of-the-art technology in supercomputing, nanotechnology, genetics and particle science to medical problems in a manner that will greatly enhance new applications that can be quickly translated into medical practice for the improvement of people’s health,” says Verbalis.

The Community Engagement and Research component of the Center will ensure community input into research priorities and representation of minority groups in our clinical research studies, thereby ensuring the validity and relevance of our results to our communities, Mellman says.

“This will help our institutions and our community in the Washington area benefit from the generation and application of new discoveries in clinical and translational science,” he says.

Another major component of the Center is the career support of clinical and translational investigators through education and mentorship. GHUCCTS institutions will be accompanied by a strong research education, training and career development program that will prepare a new generation of researchers. These programs include a new Clinical and Translational Scholars K12 program and a new master’s degree program in clinical and translational science. 

The Center’s innovative SOAR-Health program will increase the participation of underrepresented minority trainees in clinical and translational research through engagement, recruitment, and training of well-qualified college undergraduates and pre-doctoral students in an innovative specialized summer program.

“We will offer a much wider spectrum of courses, degrees and training opportunities via innovative distance-learning and web-based techniques in clinical and translational research to a greater pool of young investigators and health professions students than would be possible at individual institutions,” says Verbalis.

More information about Clinical and Translational Sciences Awards can be found at

About Howard University
Founded in 1867, students pursue studies in more than 120 academic areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, 21 Fulbright Scholars and 10 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D.s than any other university in the world. For more information about Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University’s Web site at

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), home to 60 percent of the university’s sponsored research funding.

Photo: Thomas Mellman of Howard University and Joseph Verbalis, Georgetown University (right) co-direct the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science.