This year's CCTS conference acknowledges the significant challenges of translating knowledge into new interventions for individual and community health.

UK conference highlights impact of research on community health

The UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) this week hosted its 12th Annual Spring Conference highlighting the impact that collaborative team science can have in bringing translational medical research to communities across Appalachia.

The conference brought more than 800 researchers, clinicians, students and partners to Lexington to discuss this year’s theme of “Clinical Trial Networks and Team Science: Moving Discoveries to Interventions.” The CCTS, funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, hosts the conference each year to share science and enhance research collaborations.

The CCTS doesn’t focus on any one type of disease, but instead provides pilot funding, a spectrum of research support services, and training and education to accelerate discoveries related to health issues affecting Kentucky and Central Appalachia.

This year’s conference theme acknowledges the significant challenges of translating knowledge into useful interventions for individual and community health, a process that often takes years or decades. Multidisciplinary research teams and networks of clinical trials, however, can quicken the process by combining expertise and leveraging existing research systems.

“In the not-so-distance past, ‘medical research’ conjured the image of a single investigator, alone in their lab with a microscope,” said Dr. Philip A. Kern, director of the CCTS. “But as research methods have become more specialized and health problems more complex, multidisciplinary collaboration is critical to gaining new knowledge and turning discoveries into new interventions. Combining the expertise of multiple specialties and bridging our work across the clinic, the lab and communities is essential to making real advancements to improve health.”

Reflecting the importance of a multidisciplinary approach, the conference was held in conjunction with the UK College of Dentistry Research Day, the UK College of Engineering Biomedical Research Day, the UK College of Health Sciences Research Day​, the UK College of Nursing Scholarship Showcase, the UK College of Public Health Research Day and the UK MD/PhD Program Research Day.

Representatives from Marshall University, a partner of the CCTS in the Appalachian Translational Research Network, were also in attendance, as were colleagues from the UK Center for Excellence in Rural Health.

A special ‘thank you’ to Dr. Lowe

A special recognition award was presented to Jane S. Lowe, PhD, administrative director of the CCTS, who is retiring after more than 25 years of academic and research administration.

“Dr. Lowe has been at the heart and soul of the CCTS since its inception, and will be forever linked with our center,” Kern said. “Over the years, as members of the leadership of the center and of the university have come and gone; as faculty, staff and students have traversed its waters; as local and national policies and priorities have changed  the one true constant of the UK CCTS has been Jane Lowe. She has faithfully served as an intrepid founder, an exacting archivist, an unrelenting challenger and our most ardent supporter. Without reservation I can say that Dr. Lowe’s leadership has been at the core of every success of the CCTS.”

Next steps:

  • Learn how a $19.8 million grant from the NIH has put CCTS in elite company among research institutions across the country.
  • Researchers are working hard to identify new treatments and strategies to improve health, but they need healthy participants and those with medical conditions to participate in clinical studies. Find out how you can participate in clinical research at UK HealthCare.