Request for Applications – Diversity and Re-entry Scholars Program

The C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research is now accepting applications for two additional funding opportunities. The Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health Related Research (PA-18-906) and Supplement to Promote Re-entry into Biomedical and Behavioral Research Careers (PA-18-592)represent two funding mechanisms to support investigative careers.
PA-18-906:This administrative supplement is designed to provide support for research experiences for individuals from diverse backgrounds throughout the continuum from high school to the faculty level.In all cases, the proposed research experience must be an integral part of the approved, ongoing research of the parent award, and it must have the potential to contribute significantly to the research career development of the candidate.
NIH Definition of Diversity:
PA-18-592:This program is designed to offer opportunities to women and men who have interrupted their research careers. Candidates must have a doctoral degree, such as M.D., D.D.S., Ph.D., O.D., D.V.M., or equivalent; and must have been accepted in a postdoctoral or faculty position at the time they left active research. All candidates must be planning a career in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, or social science research. In general, the duration of the career interruption should be at least one year and no more than eight years. Examples of qualifying interruptions would include a complete or partial hiatus from research activities for child rearing; an incapacitating illness or injury of the candidate, spouse, partner, or a member of the immediate family; relocation to accommodate a spouse, partner, or other close family member; pursuit of non-research endeavors that would permit earlier retirement of debt incurred in obtaining a doctoral degree; and military service.
Please note: US citizens, non-citizen nationals, and permanent residents are eligible to apply
For additional information, please see:
Application Materials Requested:
  • Letter of intent (1-2 pages) that briefly outlines the applicant’s current research project, current mentorship and plans for career development
  • CV
Application Timeline:
  • Phase 1: Application Due Date: October 5, 2018
  • Phase 2: Two applicants for each funding opportunity will be selected to then partner with members of the Wright CCTR for formal submission to the NIH by November 1, 2018
Application Contact/Questions:
Please submit application materials (letter of intent and CV) and other inquiries to:
Dr. Pamela Dillon, Research Liaison
Phone: 804.827.1519

Congratulations to Wright Center’s Director of Education Programs, Dr. Arun Sanyal, on this groundbreaking $40M project! #CTSAProgram

A groundbreaking $40 million project aims to develop a better test for liver disease

A pioneering European research project with assistance from a Virginia Commonwealth University clinician aims to lead to new diagnostic tests to assess patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and identify those most at risk for developing severe inflammation and liver scarring.

Arun Sanyal, M.D.
Arun Sanyal, M.D.

The $40 million (€34 million) project, Liver Investigation: Testing Marker Utility in Steatohepatitis, is funded by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking and brings together clinicians and scientists from prominent academic centers across Europe with companies from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. Their common goals are developing, validating and qualifying better biomarkers for testing NAFLD.

The project is coordinated by Newcastle University, UK, working closely with the lead EFPIA partner, Pfizer. LITMUS will include 47 international research partners based at leading international universities and some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

Through his appointment as a visiting professor at Newcastle University, VCU Health hepatologist Arun Sanyal, M.D., is an adviser to the LITMUS project.

“This is a very important project which will allow physicians to diagnose those who have this dangerous kind of fatty liver disease,” he said. “Currently the only way to do that is with a liver biopsy, which is painful, invasive and carries some risk.”

Affecting 20 to 30 percent of the population worldwide, NAFLD is caused by a build-up of fat in liver cells, which leads to inflammation, scarring of the liver and ultimately cirrhosis. It is strongly linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Quentin Anstee, a professor at Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine and a consultant hepatologist at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is coordinating the LITMUS consortium.

“Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is already the most common underlying cause of liver transplant in the United States and, with the obesity epidemic in Europe, we are very close behind,” he said. “LITMUS will unite clinicians and academic experts from centers across Europe with scientists from the leading pharmaceutical companies, all working together to develop and validate new highly-accurate blood tests and imaging techniques that can diagnose the severity of liver disease, predict how each patient’s disease will progress and monitor those changes, better or worse, as they occur.”

“Lack of easy and accurate diagnostic tests means that many patients go undiagnosed until late in the disease process. It has also held back efforts to develop new medical treatments for NAFLD,” Anstee said. “Availability of better diagnostic tests will help us to target care at an early stage of disease to the people who are going to be most severely affected. It will also help us to develop more effective medical treatments for NAFLD and to run the clinical trials that the regulatory agencies need so that they can license these medicines to be prescribed by doctors.”

Chris Day, vice-chancellor and president of Newcastle University and a consultant hepatologist, added, “Tackling non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a major public health challenge and the award of such a large grant from the EU, allowing us to bring together pharma and academia in this way, gives us real hope of making significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of this increasingly common and often devastating disease.”

If studies in Europe identify noninvasive methods that properly recognize patients at risk for developing liver cirrhosis, those results will need to be validated in the United States. VCU Health will be one of two sites where that will happen, Sanyal said.

Julia Brosnan, senior director of external collaborations and scientific alliances at Pfizer, who also serves as the industry project lead for LITMUS, expressed enthusiasm about the good the collaboration will do.

“This is an exciting project and we look forward to working with the other LITMUS partners to develop new diagnostic tests for NAFLD, which is too often undiagnosed in patients,” she said. “We hope the results of this project will help change that.”

This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 777377. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA.



Professor Quentin Anstee:

Twitter: @LITMUS_IMI

This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 777377. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA and 47 Associated Partners: AMC Amsterdam, Antaros, Antwerp University Hospital, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Center for Cooperative Research in Biosciences, Ellegaard Göttingen Minipigs, European Association for the Study of the Liver, Exalenz Bioscience, Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa, Genfit, Hôpital Beaujon, APHP, Institute of Cardiometabolism And Nutrition, Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg, Intercept, iXscient, Lilly, Linköping University, Medical University of Vienna, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Newcastle University, Nordic Bioscience, Novartis Pharma AG, Novo Nordisk, Örebro University, OWL, Perspectum Diagnostics, Pfizer Ltd., RWTH Aachen University Hospital, Sanofi, Servicio Andaluz de Salud, Seville, Somalogic, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International GmbH, UMC Utrecht, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Università degli Studi di Milano, Università degli Studi di Palermo, University Hospital of Angers, University Hospital Würzburg, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, University Medical Center Mainz, University of Bern, University of Cambridge, University of Helsinki, University of Lisbon, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, University of Torino

This release is the author’s view and that neither IMI nor the European Union, EFPIA, or any Associated Partners are responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Congratulations to Dr. Fowler!

Check out this month’s NIH-NCATS Website and Newsletter!


CTSA Program-Supported Researchers Test Low-Cost Treatment for Deadly Illness

Alpha “Berry” Fowler III, M.D.

Alpha “Berry” Fowler III, M.D. Virginia Commonwealth University.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) researchers have discovered a low-cost and potentially lifesaving treatment for sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which the body’s immune system produces an extreme response to an infection. Support from NCATS’ Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program helped streamline translation of this promising therapy to multisite clinical studies.

The VCU researchers demonstrated in pre-clinical studies that high-dose vitamin C improved survival after sepsis in mice. Vitamin C treatment also reduced inflammation and led to better lung function. The results from a small Phase I study in patients were also positive, but larger studies were necessary to test the effectiveness of high doses of intravenous vitamin C.

Alpha (Berry) Fowler III, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the VCU School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study, credits CTSA Program hub resources and tools with helping move the therapy into a large, multicenter Phase II trial(link is external). This support included grant writing and biostatistics analysis expertise from the NCATS-funded VCU Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research. The sepsis trial will conclude in early 2018. If the treatment is successful, it could save countless lives around the world.

Posted October 2017