|Consortium Forms To Collaborate On SE Health Issues|
Thirty representatives from six of the eight clinical and translational science institutes that comprise the SouthEastern CTSA Consortium (SECC) met in Atlanta, February 25, and formed workgroups to explore next steps in collaborative research. They have held two conference calls in recent months prior to this first face-to-face meeting laying the groundwork for collaborations that could address some of the knottiest health problems confronting this region of the country.
The SECC is comprised of Duke University, NC; Emory University, Ga. (partnering with Morehouse School of Medicine and Georgia Institute of Technology); Medical University of South Carolina; University of Alabama; University of Arkansas; University of North Carolina; University of Florida; and Vanderbilt University, Tenn. Etta Pisano, principal investigator at UNC, is leading this effort.
They have discussed how best to strengthen each other’s work on common health and research concerns and decided to focus on a few projects initially and then add more as the partnership evolves over time. They also decided that all eight institutions will not necessarily work in lock step as a single unit. Rather, each individual project may be suitable for collaboration for some but not all of the participating CTSAs.
“The important thing is that we bring together the resources, talent and energy from CTSAs in the right mix to realize goals in clinical and translational research that we could not otherwise achieve on our own,” explained Dr. Pisano. “The point is to collaborate in a way that the sum of our strengths is greater than each of us working independently.”
Other regional CTSA consortia have emerged from the group of 55 individual CTSAs around the country. Forerunners to the SECC are the West Coast Consortium, Midwest Consortium, Chicago CTSA Consortium for Community Engagement (C3), East Coast - NYCON Consortium, and Upstate New York Translational Research Network (UNYTRN). What is unique about the SECC is the combination of population demographics and health disparities that exist in this region compared to the rest of the nation. Thus, the SECC hopes to leverage its combined efforts in data sharing, training, and other resources to address health issues that are disproportionately affecting the population in this region.
For example, a disproportionate number of families in the South lives in poverty. According to 2002 Census Data, 54% of those reporting they were Black and 36% of those reporting they were Hispanic live in the South and are particularly exposed to behaviorally and environmentally mediated health risks. Health disparities abound in this region in certain cancers, low birth weight, obesity and type 2 diabetes. The region also has a high incidence of stroke and cardiovascular disease. The reasons are complex and solving these health problems will require many layers of targeted research and interventions. Formation of the SECC is an important step toward improving the speed, efficiency, and efficacy of prevention and treatment efforts to achieve these important goals.
Discussion of specific projects the SECC will undertake is just commencing. Further information will be provided once concrete projects evolve.
|By Elizabeth Witherspoon|