May 3, 2010

Translational Medicine: The Next Generation of “Bench to Bedside”

Center for Clinical & Translational Science holds first research retreat

Basic scientists and clinicians from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Medical Center, gathered Friday, April 30, at the Hoagland-Pincus Conference Center in Shrewsbury for the first Translation Medicine and Science Retreat where they heard from colleagues who are translating cutting-edge bench science to bedside therapies for diseases such as diabetes, vascular disease, autism, hepatitis C and leukemia.

“There is an immense amount of interest in the clinical and translation research being done at the Medical School and hospital,” said Robert W. Finberg, MD, the Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine and chair and professor of medicine and molecular genetics & microbiology. “We wanted to take this opportunity to showcase the tremendous collaborations taking place between our basic and clinical sciences.”

More than 200 attendees were treated to a full day of lectures and panels comprised entirely of UMass experts. The following is a brief sampling of some of the presentations made during the day:

  • David Harlan, MD, professor of medicine, and Silvia Corvera, MD, professor of molecular medicine and cell biology, kicked off the retreat with a discussion about the molecular pathways involved in diabetes and current clinical research at UMass to develop a closed-loop insulin pump that more closely matches new understandings about the human biological system.
  • Shaoguang Li, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, and Alan G. Rosmarin, MD, the Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Oncology and professor of medicine, discussed how a discovery about the molecular pathway of the Alox5 gene made by Dr. Li has lead to a clinical trial exploring the use of a common asthma drug to kill chronic myeloid leukemia stem cells.
  • Donna Ambrosino, MD, professor of pediatrics and executive director of MassBiologics, talked about efforts to use a monoclonal antibody to treat hepatitis C in live transplant patients. Clinical trials by the UMass program are expected to start this summer and could potentially prevent live transplant patients with hepatitis C from being re-infected with the disease.
  • Jean A. Frazier, MD, the Robert M. and Shirley S. Siff Chair in Autism and professor of psychiatry and pediatrics discussed an ongoing project at UMass to provide pre-employment training for young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Representatives from several of the Office of Research Core Facilities, such as the Biorepository, Biomedical Informatics and Genomics, among others, were also present throughout the day to talk to scientists about available resources. “Our hope is that after today people will come away with a better understanding of the clinical research being done at UMass and the resources that might be available to them for their own projects,” said Dr. Finberg.