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Federal grant extends life
of clinical research center
February 1, 1999

A $9 million grant - one of the largest in the history of the UConn Health Center - will enable the work of the Lowell P. Weicker Jr. General Clinical Research Center to continue into the 21st century.

The general clinical research center was first funded in 1993 by the National Institutes of Health. The grant renewal will provide support for a further five years.

Clinical research centers are organizations within medical schools funded by the government and designed to help investigators carry out patient-centered research. At the Health Center during the past five years, the Weicker Center has supported clinical research programs investigating alcohol and substance abuse, osteoporosis, bone metabolism, smoking cessation, prostate enlargement and prostate cancer, tick-borne diseases, AIDs, and glaucoma.

Clinical research centers are considered major assets to medical schools. Not only do they further research on diseases but they foster new diagnoses and treatments, and prompt scientific and medical advancement by providing faculty with support services for their research.

Their importance can be seen in their distribution: The top 40 medical schools - one-third of U.S. medical schools - have 50 general clinical research centers; the next third - a further 40 schools - have 18; the bottom third, two.

"The successful competitive grant renewal for the GCRC is the result of a considerable effort by a large number of our faculty and the GCRC staff," said Peter J. Deckers, dean of the UConn School of Medicine and the grant's principal investigator. "This and other initiatives make it possible to substantially augment our activities in the critical area of clinical research during the next five years."

Lawrence G. Raisz, program director at the Weicker Center, said "I was ecstatic when I heard the grant was renewed. The competitive renewal of the GCRC was the most difficult, important and rewarding grant application in which I have been involved in a lifetime of research."

The Weicker Clinical Research Center employs about 25 full- and part-time workers who are registered nurses, research assistants, data managers, finance and accounting experts, core laboratory technicians, biostatisticians and more.

"Our GCRC is a big part of our new strategic plan," said Leslie S. Cutler, Health Center chancellor. "This grant renewal will not only enable us to continue with research initiatives already under way, but also to begin new research programs that will add to the body of knowledge and improve health."

The center is named after Lowell P. Weicker Jr., former U.S. senator and Connecticut governor, a strong proponent of government funding for medical and scientific research.

Patrick Keefe