Frequently Asked Questions about the CTSA, ITMAT, CHIBE, and the Community Engagement and Research (CEAR) Core

1. What is the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA)?

The Clinical and Translational Science Award is a program operated jointly by the University of Pennsylvania, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the Wistar Institute, and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. The academic home for the CTSA is the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) at the University of Pennsylvania. The CTSA is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It was first funded in 2006 and successfully renewed for another five years in 2016.

2. What is the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT)?

ITMAT supports research infrastructure at the interface of basic and clinical research focusing on developing new and safer therapeutics. ITMAT includes faculty, basic research space, and the Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC). ITMAT also includes research cores, educational programs, and research centers. These are designed to facilitate training and research from proof of concept in cellular and animal model systems across the translational divide to proof of concept and dose selection in humans.

ITMAT includes more than 800 investigators from all schools at Penn, CHOP, the Wistar Institute, the Monell Institute, and the University of Sciences in Philadelphia. As such, it represents a unique campus wide resource for those seeking collaborations and job placement in clinical and translational research.

3. What are the themes of the Penn CTSA?

 The overarching themes of the Penn CTSA are:

  1. fostering the development of Translational Therapeutics and
  2. bridging the divide between pediatric and adult physiology and disease

4. What is CHIBE?

The Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE) is a research core housed with the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. CHIBE works closely with CEAR Core to achieve the aims of the CTSA award. CHIBE’s mission is to inform health policy, improve health care delivery, and increase healthy behaviors.

5. What is the Community Engagement and Research (CEAR) Core?

The purpose of the CEAR Core is to facilitate community-based research and community engagement, and enhance the translation of research and technological developments to key public health and community stakeholders. The NIH is committed to including a focus on Community Engagement in all CTSAs.

6. What are the CEAR Core’s goals?

The broad purpose of this core is to facilitate initiatives in community-engaged research, collaboration, and multi-disciplinary team science. This is achieved through engagement of a variety of communities and stakeholders; supporting and fostering methods to effectively involve communities in research; leveraging technology for translation and to test prevention and behavior change strategies; and connecting with regional and national collaborators.

Specific goals are:

  • Expand the engagement of communities of providers, patients and citizens into all phases of research across the continuum of clinical trials, patient research, and community participatory research.
  • Provide support and foster expertise in methods effectively to involve communities in research that cuts across schools, programs, centers and health systems.
  • Bridge the adult-pediatric divide in community-engaged research through multi-disciplinary team science, focusing on patient research engagement boards, community scholars-in-residence, and comparative effectiveness research.
  • Leverage emerging healthcare and research technology better to translate therapeutic discoveries as well as test innovative prevention and behavior change strategies to increase uptake of evidence-based therapies.
  • Advance translational research and health equity research through regional and national collaborations to facilitate testing, implementation and dissemination of effective prevention and treatment modalities and community-engaged research methods.

7. What services does the CEAR Core provide to investigators?

The Community Engagement and Research Core offers consultations on community engagement; training in participatory research methods; and assistance with the development, implementation, and evaluation of community translation activities. The CEAR Core is housed in the Center for Health Behavior Research (CHBR), which also offers consultation on measurement, theory, and research design and subject recruitment for studies of health behavior.

8. What funding opportunities does the CEAR Core offer?

The Community Engagement and Research Core awards pilot grants every year, funding research initiatives that foster community engaged research, especially studies that use a participatory framework. This includes research in community settings or using a participatory research framework with active involvement of community stakeholders. “Community” is defined broadly to include populations in neighborhoods and organizations, including health care settings.

9. What is the CEAR Core Steering Committee and what will it do?

The Steering Committee of faculty and senior staff at Penn helps the CEAR Core to prioritize and guide the scope of the Core’s activities. Steering Committee members also serve as liaisons to community engagement and outreach programs around the University.

10. How can I become and ITMAT member?

ITMAT membership confers these benefits:

  • Inclusion in the community of translational researchers at Penn, readily identifiable from within or outside Penn via membership of ITMAT;
  • Immediate notification of new ITMAT initiatives;
  • Eligibility for educational and research support grants provided via ITMAT;
  • Access to core services provided to members at cost.

ITMAT is designed mainly to focus on the translational space, which we define as lying between proof of concept in cells and model systems and the completion of studies in mechanism and rational dose selection, ideally for individualized therapeutics at the end of Phase II. If your research interests lie within this area, we particularly welcome you as a member of ITMAT. Clinical and community health researchers can also join ITMAT, to enjoy the benefits of the CEAR Core and other resources and as part of their transdisciplinary research efforts.

If you meet this criterion and would like to become a member, more details and the membership form are available here.

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Researcher readiness for participating in community-engaged dissemination and implementation research: a conceptual framework of core competencies

Shea et al., 2017 Translational Behavioral Medicine