The Clinical Research Alliance will lead the UNC School of Medicine’s coordinating center clinical research enterprise, enabling its world class investigators with new capabilities to lead the design and implementation of multi-site clinical research, while making clinical research more streamlined for researchers, industry partners and trial participants.
The UNC School of Medicine has launched its Clinical Research Alliance (CRA), an organization within the school that will streamline all aspects of its clinical research enterprise, including ground-up support for scientists conducting multi-site trials, industry partners interested in collaboration leading toward new treatments and discoveries, as well as people interested in joining trials as participants. The CRA is a key component of the School of Medicine’s Forward Together Strategic Plan.
“The UNC School of Medicine is uniquely positioned to be successful in this space. We have experts who are global leaders in their fields of research, and we have a strong partnership with UNC Health that will ensure our research will address the most important needs in North Carolina and around the world,” said UNC School of Medicine Vice Dean for Research Blossom Damania. “I am extremely grateful to Michael Sledge, David Peden, and Suzanne Kennedy for their help in launching the CRA. This would not have been possible without their efforts.”
UNC-Chapel Hill has been a leader in clinical research for decades through work from the UNC School of Medicine, UNC Health and other partners across campus in public health, pharmacy, nursing and the College of Arts & Sciences.
“The opportunity to create a new academic leader in clinical research through the UNC School of Medicine and its colleagues across the University has been an exciting possibility since I arrived at UNC-Chapel Hill,” said Michael Sledge, chief financial officer for the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Physicians. “To see it come to life is an important milestone for all those involved.”
In 2022 the UNC School of Medicine research portfolio reached a milestone, surpassing $600 million in funding, including nearly $350 million from the National Institutes of Health. The school’s research portfolio has grown steadily over the last several years and accounts for more than half of all research funding at UNC-Chapel Hill, which surpassed the billion-dollar milestone in 2020.
“The Clinical Research Alliance will enable us to work closely with industry partners to bring new treatments and cures to life for our patients across North Carolina and for others around the world,” said Executive Dean Cristy Page, MD, MPH. “Our strengths in education, research and patient care will support the lifesaving advances that our community will benefit from as a result of this launch.”
David B. Peden, MD, MS, will serve as faculty lead for the CRA. Peden is the senior associate dean for translational research at the UNC School of Medicine; medical director for the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology; and Harry S. Andrews Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics. Peden is a pediatric allergist and immunologist, and his research focuses on asthma and environmental effects on lung disease. The CRA will partner with the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center of the Gillings School of Global Public Health in this effort, led by Kevin Anstrom. The CRA is located adjacent to the CSCC in Carolina Square. The CSCC is a leader in employed adaptive clinical trial design and managing large federal studies.
Initially, the CRA will focus on five therapeutic areas: Allergic Diseases, Gastroenterology, Infectious Diseases, Metabolic Disorders, Pediatric Drug Studies, and Respiratory Diseases, led by Corinne Keet, Nicholas Shaheen, Joseph Eron, John Buse, Matthew Laughon and Peden. Other therapeutic areas will be added to the CRA portfolio has this effort develops.
“The UNC School of Medicine has long had expertise and infrastructure to partake in and lead many clinical research trials, but now we’re taking a crucial step with the CRA to lead more national and multi-site clinical research trials to truly harness our potential as a global leader in many clinical research areas,” Peden said. “Our initial focus will be to assist UNC investigators to take their clinical advances to a larger scale and direct these studies through the SOM.”