February 12, 2018
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The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) of the National Institutes of Health announces five new Core Centers for Clinical Research (CCCR) (P30) awards. The CCCRs provide avenues to advance the methodological sciences that support clinical research within and across the NIAMS' scientific portfolio. The overall goal of the CCCRs is to develop and apply methods, metrics, and outcome measures that address existing and emerging clinical research needs to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of musculoskeletal, rheumatologic, and skin diseases.

Based on internal review, along with inputs from an externally convened Centers Evaluation Working Group and a public Request for Information, the NIAMS decided that the traditional Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Centers (i.e., P60), originally established in 2001 to promote clinical, epidemiological, and health-services research, needed to be updated. This new NIAMS CCCR program is in response to that decision. 

Each CCCR award includes, at minimum, a strong methodologic core and an administrative research core focused on supporting clinical research. The program is intended to be flexible, innovative, and adaptable, and to accommodate and address pressing needs of the NIAMS clinical research community.

The 2017 CCCR awards are:

Improving Minority Health in Rheumatic Diseases (IMHRD) — This CCCR, based at the Medical University of South Carolina and led by Gary S. Gilkeson, M.D., will provide research resources to enable and enhance clinical and translational research on two autoimmune connective tissue diseases, scleroderma and lupus, that have a disparate impact on African American women. A major emphasis will be on communicating and collaborating with minority patient groups and communities to encourage input and participation in clinical research and health promotion activities. The work is intended to contribute to the elimination of health disparities for individuals with scleroderma or lupus and to improve the health of those at an increased risk for one of these diseases.

Indiana Core Center for Clinical Research (ICCCR) in Musculoskeletal Health — The overarching theme of the ICCCR is to better define musculoskeletal diseases that have common pathogenesis and clinical presentations. The team of investigators, led by Sharon M. Moe, M.D., with support from Mike Econs, M.D., Stuart Warden, Ph.D., and Eric Imel, M.D. at Indiana University, and Connie Weaver, Ph.D. at Purdue University, will integrate a network of electronic health records and molecular profiles to identify genetic factors and clinical and biochemical phenotypes. In addition, they aim to standardize physical function measurements and imaging modalities to define the diseases’ functional and morphologic phenotypes. Improving the definition and diagnosis of these musculoskeletal conditions could lead to personalized medicine through health care providers prescribing tailored treatment for each patient.

VERITY: Value and Evidence in Rheumatology Using Bioinformatics, and Advanced Analytics — The Brigham and Women’s Hospital CCCR, led by Daniel Hal Solomon, M.D., M.P.H., is organized around scientific themes that can be applied to multiple rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. Investigators will explore strategies for: including patients in clinical trial design and result interpretation and dissemination; using behavioral economics methods to enhance the benefits of interventions that are known to be effective; extracting information from large, diverse databases; using mobile health technologies in clinical research; and disseminating information to and mentoring clinical researchers through distributed learning models.

Core Center for Clinical Research at Northwestern University — This CCCR, led by Leena Sharma, M.D., focuses on lifestyle, behavioral, medical and rehabilitative solutions for individuals who have or are at risk for rheumatic and musculoskeletal conditions. Much of its work involves incorporating mobile and sensor-based technologies into clinical research, with the goal of obtaining rigorous and reproducible measurements for how people feel and function in their daily lives. The investigators expect that their work will improve the efficiency, productivity, and impact of future clinical studies.

University of Washington Core Center for Clinical Research in Musculoskeletal Diseases — Although electronic health records enable health care systems to amass comprehensive and complex sets of data on large populations, substantial obstacles prevent researchers from transforming routine clinical information into a research-ready resource. The University of Washington CCCR, led by Jeffrey G. Jarvik, M.D., M.P.H., will explore new approaches to adaptive and pragmatic clinical trial designs, develop pipelines and methods for analyzing data for clinical musculoskeletal studies, and provide analysis-ready data sets and services for investigators who wish to conduct such research. The goal is to provide useful research data to health system decision-makers who can apply the results to improve patient care and public health.

Last Reviewed: 02/12/2018