No Rivalry Here

Duke and UNC Team Up to Fund Inter-Institutional Collaborations in Translational Research

August 27, 2014

When people think about Duke and UNC, sports rivalries and March Madness are more likely to come to mind than collaboration. But outside athletics, these schools are pooling their resources to create new teams to turn basic scientific discoveries into advances in patient care. 

The Duke University Translational Medicine Institute (DTMI) and the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute are launching a new program to award $50,000 grants for translational research projects that involve co-investigators – one from Duke and one from UNC. 

“I think that although we come from different ends of Tobacco Road and our different shades of blue compete passionately in sports, when it comes to translating medical progress and health care to the community, we can be very collaborative,” said Jennifer Li, MD, MHS, co-PI of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute's CTSA award.

The pilot program is one of many endeavors supported by the more than $100 million in funding to NC TraCS and DTMI as the academic homes of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) at UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University. 

The new grants from the UNC and Duke CTSAs will encourage and facilitate novel clinical and translational research that applies or accelerates discovery into testing in clinical or population settings. They will place particular emphasis on cross-disciplinary discovery science research addressing the development of therapies, diagnostics or devices applicable to human disease and clinical trials.

Read more about other 2015 Pilot Program funding opportunities for Duke investigators offered through the Duke Translational Research Institute, including Supplemental Awards, Transformative Awards, and Collaborative Awards.

Duke and UNC already have a strong history of medical research collaborations, including joint projects to combat HIV, sickle cell disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of this pilot program is to stimulate new collaborations by motivating investigators to look beyond the walls of their own institution for ways to enhance their translational research efforts. Such inter-institutional collaborations can help accelerate the pace of research by granting more investigators expanded access to resources, expertise, and patient populations. 

“On a scientific basis, collaborative teams are formed based on shared interests and complementary resources, skills and experiences – with the hope that the sum is greater than the parts,” said John Buse, MD, PhD, deputy director of NC TraCS. “More often than not the perception is that neither team could do it alone. By definition a translation that works at two institutions is more likely to be generalizable than one derived from one research team or at one institution.”

The new program will award funding to projects that demonstrate high translational potential with a clear path to subsequent grant support, new company formation, licensing, not-for-profit partnering, or other channels. The deadline for proposals is October 31, 2014. 

The Duke Translational Research Institute is managing the application process for Duke faculty. Check their website for more information on eligibility and application submission process.