The Impact of the Clinical and Translational Research Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN) Program on Oncology Research in the Mountain West (MW) Region

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International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics





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Background: The MW CTR-IN grant is a U-54 Institutional Development Award (IDeA) funded by the NIH / NIGMS to increase and enhance research capacity. The CTR-IN Program (ctrin.unlv.edu) is only one of 11 clinical and translational research centers funded by NIGMS in the US. The CTR-IN involves a partnership with the 13 major public universities in the MW region (i.e., Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii) that covers 1/3rd of the US land mass and almost 1/3rd of all IDeA states. Of the 13 CTR-IN partner public universities, only 4 have schools of medicine (SOM). In order to increase and enhance research capacity, the CTR-IN Program initiated a pilot grant (PG) program for eligible research faculty of the 13 MW University partners in 2013 that is now in its 7th year with a very successful track record of producing independent extramural grant funding. Objectives: We conducted a retrospective review of our CTR-IN PGs to determine their impact on oncology research in the Mountain West region. All of our PGs undergo a rigorous "NIH-like” review process and our funding percentile is typically in the 25th - 30% range. The typical funding range for our PGs is usually $60 - $66k each with a duration of one year. Methods: During the initial grant cycle (2013 - 2017), a total of 83 PGs were funded for approximately $60 - $66k each in many different areas including cancer. Eight (9.6%) of the 83 PGs had a cancer focus. We analyzed and compared various major outcome metrics such as the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) of the published manuscripts, the Extramural Grant Funding (EMGF) and Return on Investment (ROI = total EMGF amount / total awarded PG amount x 100%) for the cancer focused PGs (n=8) vs. the non-cancer PG awards (n=75). Exact comparisons of the means of the major outcomes (i.e., JIF, EMGF, ROI) between the cancer focused PGs vs. the non-cancer PGs were conducted. Results: Of the 8 pilot grants funded in cancer research, only 2 were funded for faculty at a SOM while the others were funded at other schools (i.e., Biological Sciences, Allied Health, Social Work, Nursing and Computer / Mathematical Sciences) at our 13 partner universities. The major outcomes for the cancer focused PGs vs. the non-cancer focused PGs were as follows, respectively: (1) Mean JIF = 3.94 (SD = 4.83) for 24 publications for the cancer focused PGs vs. Mean JIF = 3.05 (SD = 1.69) for 126 publications for the non-cancer focused PGs, p = 0.102; (2) Mean Amount of EMGF = $1,255,913 (SD = $294,931) for a total EMGF amount of $2,511,826 involving 4 grants (all from faculty at non-SOM Universities) vs. Mean Amount of EMGF = $2,317,870 (SD = $3,669,986) for a total EMGF amount of $46,358,174 involving 43 grants, p = 0.765; (3) ROI was 2,002% (SD = 792%) vs. 3,644 % (SD = 6,643%), p = 0.789. Hence, there were no statistically significant differences between the cancer focused PGs awardees as compared to the non-cancer focused PG awardees as measured by the major scholarship outcomes (i.e., JIF, EMGF and ROI). Conclusions: Despite not having medical schools at majority of our 13 partner institutions, our comparative analysis reveals that our cancer focused PG awardees were just as competitive and successful as our non-cancer focused PG awardees as measured by the major scholarship outcomes (i.e., JIF, EMGF and ROI). The MW CTR-IN Program has been instrumental in seeding a culture of investigator initiated clinical and translational research through its pilot grant program including oncology research despite the sparsity of medical schools in the MW region.


CTR-IN grant; Pilot grant program; Retrospective review; Oncology research; Mountain West region; Comparative analysis


Medical Specialties | Medicine and Health Sciences | Oncology



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