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Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute

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News and Announcements

Catch up on the latest news from NUCATS.

  • Community-Academic Partnership Leads to City’s First Dementia-Friendly Library
    02.16.2018

    African Americans represent 39% of the local population aged 65 and older and are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than whites, yet they disproportionately receive less dementia care and education. The Endeleo Institute recognized this issue and, with seed funding from Northwestern’s Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities (ARCC), had the opportunity to collaborate with the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and seven African-American churches to develop REACH (Research & Education for African-American Caregiver Health) to Faith.

    African Americans represent 39% of the local population aged 65 and older and are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than whites, yet they disproportionately receive less dementia care and education. The Endeleo Institute recognized this issue and, with seed funding from Northwestern’s Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities (ARCC), had the opportunity to collaborate with the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and seven African-American churches to develop REACH (Research & Education for African-American Caregiver Health) to Faith.

    Melvin Thompson, the Executive Director of the Endeleo Institute states, “Just ten years ago this issue wasn’t on anyone’s radar and now there are resources cropping up everywhere. There are more communities of color forming organizations and that can only help what we’re trying to achieve.” 

    REACH to Faith is a community engagement project for African-American community members living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and their caregivers. The Endeleo Institute spearheaded a community-led restoration of the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library and has been a strong partner with the Chicago Public Library in this multi-million-dollar restoration. The Woodson Library will have its grand reopening this weekend.

    REACH to Faith along with a multi- stakeholder community academic advisory board are working with the Woodson Library to develop resources and services to make it the city’s first dementia-friendly library, providing culturally relevant programming and education around Alzheimer's disease and other forms of neurocognitive impairment. Building on funding from the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, Woodson will serve as a health information hub, empowering residents as citizen scientists to address the root causes of certain unequal conditions (often referred to as the social determinants) that exist in communities, leading to poor health outcomes.

    The Endeleo Institute invites you to help celebrate the reopening of the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, located at 9525 S. Halsted St., on Saturday, February 17 from 9am - 4pm. There will be special recognition of Endeleo and Trinity United Church of Christ (Endeleo’s parent organization) at 12:45.

    The ARCC 2018 Community Engaged Research Seed Grant program has an open request for applications, deadline April 6. Click here for details.

  • Northwestern Receives Several Awards at AMIA
    12.15.2017

    Last month several representatives from Northwestern attended and presented at the annual American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Conference. Many members of Northwestern came home with new awards or honors. Dr. Yuan Luo received an Honorable Mention for the inaugural Doctoral Dissertation Award. Dr. Abel Kho was elected to the American College of Medical Informatics, joining two other Northwestern ACMI Fellows. Luke Rasmussen won the Distinguished Poster Award. Additionally, a team of five Northwestern Students, Eleanor Burgess, Ada Ng, Andela Smith, Noah Weingarten and Jennifer Pacheco, were chosen to present as part of the AMIA Student Design Challenge. Their prototype technology, “Sensi-steps”, designed to track fall risk, took second place. Overall, Northwestern representatives presented 14 separate talks, panels, or posters.

  • 12.15.2017

    A NUCATS KL2 Scholar, Emily Rogalski, PhD, was named one of the 40 under 40 in Crain’s Chicago Business. The annual list focuses on highlighting 40 individuals who are making a difference in Chicago business and non-profits. Dr. Rogalski was recognized as a disruptor who is “upsetting the status quo” through her groundbreaking work with SuperAgers. Instead of focusing on what goes wrong when it comes to aging and memory, Dr. Rogalski decided to focus on the positive outcomes. This turned the tables on how scientists approach Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and memory loss.

    A NUCATS KL2 Scholar, Emily Rogalski, PhD, was named one of the 40 under 40 in Crain’s Chicago Business. The annual list focuses on highlighting 40 individuals who are making a difference in Chicago business and non-profits. Dr. Rogalski was recognized as a disruptor who is “upsetting the status quo” through her groundbreaking work with SuperAgers. Instead of focusing on what goes wrong when it comes to aging and memory, Dr. Rogalski decided to focus on the positive outcomes. This turned the tables on how scientists approach Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and memory loss.

    Dr. Rogalski received early career development support as a participant in the NUCATS Institute Multidisciplinary Clinical and Translational Scientists (MCTS) Scholar Program (KL2) for her work focusing on neuroimaging with structural MRI scans of individuals with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a type of dementia where one's language abilities deteriorate. By examining this information, strong brain-behavior correlations were identified. Her findings detected unique areas of cortical thinning within the language network associated with performance on different aspects of language: word production rate, repetition, sentence grammaticality and word comprehension. The KL2 award provided Dr. Rogalski protected time for her research, $25,000 a year for research related expenses, and provided her with career development and mentoring programs which all contributed to her on-going success as an independent research investigator. 

  • Key Community, Academic, & Industry Stakeholders Discuss Importance of Diversity in Clinical Trials
    10.26.2017

    Representatives from the Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities (ARCC), the Center for Clinical Research, and the Lurie Cancer Center joined approximately 100 participants at the Third Annual #BeAGift Importance of Diversity in Clinical Trials event. Presented by the American Cancer Society at the Access Community Health Network's Center for Discovery and Learning on Chicago's south side, the community briefing brought together key community, academic, and industry stakeholders for three panels. These discussions focused on the importance of diverse participation in clinical trials and how to integrate medical doctors, patients, and local legislators into the dialogue around this pervasive issue in clinical research.

    Representatives from the Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities (ARCC), the Center for Clinical Research, and the Lurie Cancer Center joined approximately 100 participants at the Third Annual #BeAGift Importance of Diversity in Clinical Trials event. Presented by the American Cancer Society at the Access Community Health Network's Center for Discovery and Learning on Chicago's south side, the community briefing brought together key community, academic, and industry stakeholders for three panels. These discussions focused on the importance of diverse participation in clinical trials and how to integrate medical doctors, patients, and local legislators into the dialogue around this pervasive issue in clinical research.

    Collaboration and technology became profound conference themes and specific areas for action included the necessity for healthcare to embrace technology and the constant need for legislators to be educated about the health issues impacting their constituents and how their offices can mobilize to make an impact. Community activists participating in the event challenged legislators and providers to engage in more concerted efforts to provide comprehensive services and resources to community members struggling for basic survival, noting that these struggles cause clinical trials, and health in general, to become less of a priority. 

  • Protect Your Research During National Cyber Security Awareness Month
    10.13.2017

    October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and a better time than ever to take the necessary steps to ensure your research is safe and secure. We all know data security is an important part of any research project. You can learn more about the security awareness campaign, Secure Northwestern, here. You can also request a NUCATS consult to learn ways that the Center for Data Science and Informatics (CDSI) can help you manage your data securely.

  • A National Center For Digital Health Innovation
    10.02.2017

    Northwestern University, in partnership with Oregon Health & Science University, University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Sage Bionetworks, has been awarded a five-year $25M cooperative agreement from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) to create a new CTSA Program National Center for Data to Health (CD2H). This award will coalesce and coordinate informatics activities across the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program, a network of more than 50 medical research institutions, to provide collaborative clinical and translational research infrastructure.

    Center for Data 2 HealthNorthwestern University, in partnership with Oregon Health & Science University, University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Sage Bionetworks, has been awarded a five-year $25M cooperative agreement from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) to create a new CTSA Program National Center for Data to Health (CD2H). This award will coalesce and coordinate informatics activities across the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program, a network of more than 50 medical research institutions, to provide collaborative clinical and translational research infrastructure. 

    The new CTSA Program National Center for Data to Health will be led by Dr. Melissa Haendel (OHSU), Dr. Kristi Holmes (Northwestern University), Dr. Sean Mooney (University of Washington), Dr. Christopher Chute (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), and John Wilbanks (Sage Bionetworks). These institutions, together with The Scripps Research Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Iowa, and The Jackson Laboratory will work with CTSA Program hubs and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health to launch the CD2H.

    “The new National Center for Data to Health offers an opportunity to catalyze the cultural and technological changes necessary for data and informatics to fundamentally impact research and health care,” describes Dr. Kristi Holmes, associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine, director of evaluation at NUCATS, and director of the Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center at Feinberg School of Medicine, who is a co-director of the new center. “As scientific research is transformed by big data, high-performance computing, and real-time publishing, the structure and composition of scientific teamwork is also changing. Here we aim to grow the data and informatics-based architecture needed to support interdisciplinary teams so that diverse contributions are valued and recognized -- enhancing knowledge transfer, discovery, and impact on health.”
        
    The CD2H will be tasked with several priorities to support a vibrant and evolving informatics ecosystem, including: support and enhancement of a collaborative informatics community; development of Good Data Practice (GDP); promotion of software standards for interoperability; growth of collaborative innovation across informatics tools, methods, and processes; advancement of cutting edge biomedical research informatics; data science education for CTSA Program researchers; and novel methods and tools for the evaluation of the impact of these activities to enhance health care through data and informatics. 

    Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, senior associate dean for Clinical and Translational Research and director of the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS) explained the impact of this program. “Today’s researchers and physicians can leverage data and technology in ways never before imagined possible. Critical infrastructure, such as our own Northwestern Medicine Enterprise Data Warehouse, powers transformative research, clinical trials, clinical quality improvement, health care operations, and medical education initiatives -- enabling us to truly realize the vision of a vibrant learning healthcare system. A strong, collaborative national informatics infrastructure is a critical component to support this work and drive healthcare and research to the next level. We are thrilled for Northwestern to play a leadership role on this important effort.”

    The newly created center will focus on creating and harnessing an ecosystem for translational scientists to discover and share their software, data, and other research resources within the CTSA Program network. The CD2H also creates a social coding environment for translational science institutions, leveraging the community-driven DREAM challenges as a mechanism to stimulate innovation. Collaborative innovation also serves as a strong foundation to support mechanisms to facilitate training, engagement, scholarly dissemination, and impact across the CTSA Program hubs and beyond.

    CTSA Activity Spectrum

    “The goal of the CD2H is to unlock the amazing wealth of technologies and innovation located within each individual CTSA and to create cohesive communities of practice founded on the fundamental premise that team science, data sharing, and collaborative innovation can advance patient care” described the center director at Oregon Health & Sciences University, Dr. Melissa Haendel, who also co-directs the NCATS Biomedical Data Translator program.  Professor Christopher Chute, Chief Research Information Officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine and Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research described the important role that collaborative informatics plays in health. “All CTSA hubs have shared an aspiration for federated analyses of clinical data across the network, married with public repositories of basic science data, to achieve unprecedented levels of biomedical knowledge discovery and improved practice.  CD2H will catalyze this process, and coordinate the myriad of social, legal, and technical requirements to make this practical.”

    The Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute is positioned as the home base for clinical and translational science at Northwestern University and its clinical affiliates. NUCATS functions as an integrated hub supporting and accelerating clinical and translational science across Northwestern University (including six schools), our three nationally-renowned clinical partners, our Chicago community and stakeholders, and the broad consortium of CTSA-funded institutions. NUCATS is currently funded, in part, by the NCATS research grant UL1TR001422. The new CTSA Program National Center for Data to Health is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health grant U24TR002306.

  • Dr. Woodruff Receives NIH Tissue Chip Award
    09.20.2017

    NIH awarded Dr. Teresa Woodruff funding to support her study that utilizes the development of a 3-D human tissue model. “Tissue chips” are engineered to model disease and test drug efficacy prior to clinical trials. Dr. Woodruff’s study focuses on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a highly prevalent human health crisis for women in their reproductive years.

    NIH awarded Dr. Teresa Woodruff funding to support her study that utilizes the development of a 3-D human tissue model. “Tissue chips” are engineered to model disease and test drug efficacy prior to clinical trials. Dr. Woodruff’s study focuses on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a highly prevalent human health crisis for women in their reproductive years.

    This project team has created a next-generation technology that can be used in the general- or high-throughput tissue culture lab and will support human and mouse tissues (ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, adipose, liver and pancreas) under the influence of androgen. Project staff will use this model to test drugs that target androgen production as well as existing insulin-sensitizing drugs and a new class of drugs that is under development for PCOS by the team’s pharmaceutical partner.

    Read more about the award here

  • NUCATS Welcomes New KL2 Scholars
    08.14.2017

    Congratulations to the two investigators who have received the KL2 Award! The KL2 award is a multidisciplinary mentored career development program which will provide Sadiya Khan, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Tracy Gertler, MD, PhD, Instructor of Pediatrics (Neurology) with career development resources, educational opportunities, salary support and career guidance.

    Congratulations to the two investigators who have received the KL2 Award! The KL2 award is a multidisciplinary mentored career development program which will provide Sadiya Khan, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Tracy Gertler, MD, PhD, Instructor of Pediatrics (Neurology) with career development resources, educational opportunities, salary support and career guidance.

    Sadiya Khan, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology)
    Dr. Khan will use this award to foster her scientific and professional development into an independent physician-scientist and a leader in translational cardiometabolic research. With the help of her mentors, Drs. Lloyd-Jones, Vaughan, and Hou, she has designed a specific training plan to build upon her background in basic and epidemiologic investigation that involves didactic coursework, analytic experience through a supervised research project, and interaction with a multidisciplinary team of sponsors with expertise in cardiovascular epidemiology, vascular biology, and epigenetics.

    The overall scientific goal of this project is to investigate the role of DNA methylation in the development of cardiometabolic diseases across the lifecourse utilizing both candidate-pathway approach (adipogenesis pathways) and epigenome-wide association studies in two complementary cohorts, including the Coronary Artery Disease Risk in Young Adults and an Old Order Amish cohort.

    Tracy Gertler, MD, PhD, Instructor of Pediatrics (Neurology)
    Dr. Gertler will use KL2 funding to further investigate the relationship between Malignant migrating partial epilepsy of infancy (MMPEI) a type of epileptic encephalopathy (EE) and a gain-of-function mutation within the KCNT1 gene encoding Slack, a sodium-activated potassium channel. Quinidine has been reported as a uniquely efficacious anticonvulsant, suggesting that targeting neuronal excitability in EE is therapeutically beneficial, yet its use is limited by non-specific channel block in the brain and heart. Advances in EE are further complicated by a lack of understanding of the neuronal subtype within the brain driving the epileptogenic circuit. This project seeks to delineate the molecular mechanisms governing gain-of-function of Slack channels in a mammalian heterologous expression system and in human neurons differentiated from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), representing a novel attempt to model pathogenic ion channels in mammalian cells and human neurons.

    Automated electrophysiology will be used to screen a limited panel of potassium channel blockers and quinidine-like compounds to identify selective and potent blockers of Slack channels for use in additional experiments as well as potential therapies for MMPEI. By identifying the mechanism of ‘overactive’ Slack channels and developing a select panel of drugs which block its gain-of-function, she hopes to refine a more precise approach to treating patients with severe global impairment and intractable epilepsy due to KCNT1 mutation.

  • INVOForward Kick Off Meeting is Fast Approaching
    08.09.2017

    The kick off meeting for the first cohort of INVOForward is September 8.  INVO is currently wrapping up interviews of teams who are interested in commercializing MEDICAL DEVICES.  Approximately 20 teams from Feinberg, McCormick, Lurie Children’s and Ability Lab are vying to participate in this selective program.  INVOForward is a Northwestern mentorship program to accelerate biomedical commercialization, such as medical devices, therapeutics, and Health IT, on both Evanston and Chicago campuses.

    The kick off meeting for the first cohort of INVOForward is September 8.  INVO is currently wrapping up interviews of teams who are interested in commercializing MEDICAL DEVICES.  Approximately 20 teams from Feinberg, McCormick, Lurie Children’s and Ability Lab are vying to participate in this selective program.  INVOForward is a Northwestern mentorship program to accelerate biomedical commercialization, such as medical devices, therapeutics, and Health IT, on both Evanston and Chicago campuses.

    It is designed to increase entrepreneurship by helping potential or current biomedical entrepreneurship teams focus on the customer discovery process. Through their discovery, the teams test and identify their market fit and assess the level of impact of their business proposition.  INVOForward is modeled after, and will expand upon programs like the NIH I-Corps and University of Michigan’s Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI).  For more information, visit our website.

    Any questions regarding the program can be sent to INVOForward@northwestern.edu.

  • Achieving Excellence in Clinical Research
    08.09.2017

    Registration is now open for the Achieving Excellence in Clinical Research: Scientific, Ethical and Operational Considerations Conference. This year marks the 14th anniversary of the conference which features national experts in important areas related to "excellence" in clinical research. Join Advocate Health Care for this 6 hour conference featuring 3 nationally known plenary speakers and a choice of 3 afternoon breakout sessions (4 breakout sessions per hour) facilitated by various experts in each topic area.

    Register here.

    Click here for more information.

  • 08.04.2017

    On June 30, 2017, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health held its inaugural NCATS Day: Partnering with Patients for Smarter Science to collectively discuss ways for improved patient inclusion in NCATS’ translational science activities. The Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute is supported by funding from NCATS and was pleased to have staff from the Center for Community Health (CCH) and Center for Clinical Research (CCR) participate. CCH also supported the attendance and participation of one of our patient advocacy partners, Candace Henley, Founder and Chief Surviving Officer of The Blue Hat Foundation, a faith- based, colorectal cancer organization whose mission is to educate, raise awareness, and provide resources to the medically underserved.

  • New Resource Available for Multi-Center Clinical Trials and Studies
    08.04.2017

    Multi-Center Clinical Trials and Studies can work with the NUCATS TIN liaison team to gain access to the Trial Innovation Network (TIN). TIN is a new collaborative initiative from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal of the Network is to execute multi-center clinical trials and studies better, faster, and more cost-efficiently by building on local resources and leveraging the expertise, skills, and knowledge of the 64-institution Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program consortium.

    Multi-Center Clinical Trials and Studies can work with the NUCATS TIN liaison team to gain access to the Trial Innovation Network (TIN). TIN is a new collaborative initiative from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal of the Network is to execute multi-center clinical trials and studies better, faster, and more cost-efficiently by building on local resources and leveraging the expertise, skills, and knowledge of the 64-institution Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program consortium. The local NUCATS TIN liaison team will connect you to the national Trial Innovation Network and get you access to the services and tools you need.

    Services may be provided in collaboration with other NUCATS resources (e.g., Center for Clinical Research, Northwestern Medicine Enterprise Data Warehouse, Biostatistics Collaboration Center).

    To request TIN services, click here.

  • 07.10.2017

    Dr. John Gotta has been awarded the 2017 Outstanding Teaching Award by the American Statistical Association. This award recognizes an outstanding statistics educator and mentor in the health sciences. Dr. Gotta was selected because of his breadth and excellence of his educational expertise.

  • 07.10.2017

    Journal-based metrics can help determine the overall quality of a communication channel. A key metric for many years has been the Journal Impact Factor by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters). In December 2016, Elsevier introduced a comparative metric called CiteScore, which is part of a family of journal-based metrics.

  • 07.10.2017

    This year in their 10th round of funding, Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities (ARCC) awarded $75,000 in seed grants to support the development and growth of six community-engaged research partnerships. Each award supports a partnership that includes a community co-principal investigator from a local community-based organization and an academic co-principal investigator from Northwestern University for a project lasting 12-24 months. To learn more about the ARCC Seed Grant Program, visit here.

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