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CTSA Consortium

UC Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration and Development Program (UC BRAID)

CTSAs at five University of California medical campuses (Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco) have formed the UC Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration, and Development (UC BRAID) consortium to enhance UC-wide research collaboration. UC BRAID is streamlining policies and infrastructure in the following key areas:

  • Biobanking
  • Center for Accelerated Innovation (UC CAI)
  • Child health
  • Contracting
  • Drug, Device Discovery, and Development (D4)
  • Informatics/ UC Research eXchange (UC-ReX)
  • Regulatory (IRB)

Go to UC BRAID website

Biobanking Initiative

Lead by UCLA’s Dr. Sarah Dry, the UC BRAID Biobanking Initiative was established in order for biobanks to meet emerging federal standards and help accelerate the pace of translational research. It aims to aid in the creation of best practice documentation and a governance model for high-quality biospecimens banks. Through an inclusive governance model and standard processes for “UC-recognized” biobanks, this initiative hopes to ensure biosamples are the highest possible quality and that biobanks are operating ethically and meet professional accredited standards. It also aims to develop biobanking educational programs. Biobanking resources include standard operating procedures for distribution, procurement and storage as well as shared resources on developing efficient and ethical approaches to biobanking research within the UC, governance of biobanks, and outlining best practices for establishing biobanks at UC facilities.

Go to the UC BRAID website to learn more about the biobanking initiative.

Child Health Initiative

UC BRAID Child Health (BRAID-CH) is the child health component of UC BRAID, the consortium of UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC San Francisco, UC San Diego, and UC Los Angeles, who have partnered to enhance multi-site research and dissemination of research. This initiative was created in part in response to the 2013 IOM review of national CTSA objectives which clearly singled out expertise in pediatric clinical research as a major focus for the future of awardees. UC BRAID sees this as a major opportunity to develop collaborative grant applications that as time goes on will be highly competitive in multiple areas of pediatric clinical research. The mission of UC BRAID-Child Health (BRAID-CH) is to integrate resources and talent across the University of California to accelerate research that improves child health. Their vision is to create a model environment for cutting edge research. This environment will reduce barriers, leverage and combine resources, enable teams, and serve as a model for collaborative child-health and lifespan research consortia. As an example of multi-site work, in August 2014, UC BRAID Child Health held an Autism Translational Research Summit to develop and implement a strategic plan for clinical research on autism. As a second example, each of the 5 institutions committed $50,000 to support two pilot UC BRAID Child Health projects that involved multi-site research. The RFA was released in March 2015, and two grants were awarded in July 2015.

Go to the UC BRAID website to learn more about the child health initiative.

Contracting Initiative

Contracting offices face increasing internal and external pressure to improve turnaround times for clinical trial contract execution. At the same time, the proliferation of multisite studies provides opportunities for institutions to align contract negotiations and leverage one another’s resources. To address these challenges, UC BRAID convened a workgroup of campus contracting leadership to: measure and improve clinical trial contracting performance, share best practices and lessons learned, increase collaboration for multisite clinical trial agreement (CTA) negotiations and mitigate redundant effort and conserve resources.

Go to the UC BRAID website to learn more about the contracting initiative.

Drug, Device Discovery, and Development (D4)

The Drug, Device Discovery, and Development workgroup is a UC BRAID committee focused on the early translation of academic discovery research into valuable and impactful therapies. D4 is leveraging the combined strengths and resources of the five campuses to accelerate this translation process. D4 is developing initiatives across 4 areas that are critical to accelerating drug and device development. These include: academic-private partnerships; training and mentorship; translational resource sharing; collaborations and grant opportunities. D4 works to improve competitiveness of UC researchers for translational funding opportunities; develop cross-campus collaborations for early translational projects; facilitate access to translational resources and infrastructure on each campus; and share successful programs and services that support translational researchers.

Go to the UC BRAID website to learn more about the Drug, Device Discovery, and Development workgroup.


Led by UCLA and UCSF CTSIs in 2013, EngageUC was a collaboration that brought together researchers, health care providers, University of California leaders, and community members to develop policies about the management of leftover blood and tissue samples collected for research; redesign the process of asking patient permission for research use of leftover biological samples, including research using genetic information; and create community-guided governance for biobanks across the five University of California medical campuses at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. It was supported by a $2-million grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at NIH.

Participant Recruitment

Participant recruitment is a significant challenge in many studies involving human subjects. Recruiting an adequate sample and retaining participants through study completion is frequently more difficult than expected. The 5 campuses of UC BRAID, UC Riverside, and Stanford have partnered to build a portfolio of tools and services to improve the participant recruitment processes.

Goals – Identify services that may be shared across campuses; find common solutions for how we engage potential research participants; and address ethical, regulatory and operational issues, including: ‚Äč

  • Improve the cost, efficiency, and effectiveness of recruitment approaches 
  • Position member institutions to be attractive for research grant dollars, both locally and with multi-center studies and trials
  • Develop capabilities to forge and respond to new public/private partnerships
Go to the UC BRAID website to learn more about the participant recruitment initiative.

Patient-Oriented Scalable National Network for Effectiveness Research (p-SCANNER)

P-SCANNER, a collaboration of UCLA CTSI; the CTSAs at UC Davis, Irvine, San Diego and San Francisco; the Veteran Health Administration; San Francisco State University; USC and RAND, received a $7-million, 18-month award from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute in December 2013. The project integrated data from three networks covering 21 million patients. UCLA CTSI participated in developing novel methods for distributed analyses that took place without moving patient data to a central location.

University of California Center for Accelerated Innovation (UC CAI)

A consortium of the five University of California medical campuses at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco has been designated as one of three Centers for Accelerated Innovations by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The UC Center for Accelerated Innovation (UC CAI) is supported by the CTSAs on each campus. UC CAI provides entrepreneurship training and up to $200K in funding to advance technologies toward commercialization. 

For more information, go to UC CAI website.

UC Research eXchange (UC-ReX)

TThe University of California Research eXchange (UC ReX) is a joint activity of the 5 University of California (UC) CTSAs, charged with fostering multi-site clinical research by providing access to harmonized clinical data from the 5 health systems. The UC Rex Data Explorer is a secure online system designed to enable UC clinical investigators to identify potential research study cohorts spanning the five UC medical centers. The Data Explorer allows investigators to conduct interactive searches of data derived from patient care activities at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Search criteria can include demographics, diagnosis and procedure codes (ICD-9, ICD-10 and CPT), labs, medications, visit details, vital signs and vital status. The output of each query from the UC ReX Data Explorer is a numeric count of patients by site that match the criteria identified in the query. The numeric count helps investigators assess the feasibility of their study idea by identifying whether there are sufficient numbers of prospective subjects within the UC system.

For more information, go to UC-ReX website.

Western CTSA Education Consortium (WCEC)

The Western CTSA Education Consortium is comprised of the directors of the training and workforce development programs of California institutions that are presently recipients of Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSA), and whose intent is to collaborate on common key interests related to education and training in California and the resulting diversity of the populations involved in our research. The collaborating CTSA institutions include Scripps Research Institute, University of Southern California, Stanford University, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, Oregon Health and Science University, University of Washington, and University of New Mexico. The Consortium has a common goal of advancing the health of residents of California through our activities and has developed an agenda of shared activities considered to be highly relevant for all of their institutions and also nationally.

Activities underway or in development are:

  • Webinar on research in diverse populations – the Consortium will host a webinar every two months to cover core issues in research on diverse populations, addressing topics such as health disparities, research methods, and cultural competency. Each institute will contribute a session, drawing on institutional leaders.
  • Education and training related to research in diverse populations – the Consortium will have a working group charged with developing a foundation course, core and more advanced educational competencies, and reviewing existing curricular materials for the subject of diverse populations. The goal is to develop curricula materials that will be shared with Hubs nationally.

Future collaborative efforts include:

  • UC San Diego’s VirBELA Clinical Trial Video Game: this 5-minute video game based on scenario of a multi-site clinical trial was created to enhance effectiveness in team skills. UCSD was interested in receiving feedback on the game as well as avenues of dissemination. Game access and instructions are provided in detailed meeting minutes.
  • Generating and sharing future training data tables or list of K scholars from each CTSA hub.
  • Topics for education material development include: responsible conduct of research, rigors of reproducibility, and team science.
  • Recruitment strategies of under-represented minorities

Greater Los Angeles Consortium

The UCLA CTSI participates in the Greater Los Angeles Consortium to co-design and develop education and training curricula. There are three CTSA hubs in the Greater Los Angeles CTSA Consortium: University of California, Irvine, University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Southern California. The consortium offers a great opportunity to work together in activities that leverage our local talents and benefit both our local communities and our approaches to clinical research. Our collective goal is to collaborate to develop curricula and online courses that can ultimately be shared with the national consortia online while supporting collaborative efforts across the Greater Los Angeles area through onsite, in-person programs and seminars.

Curricula underway or in development include:

    • Biomedical Informatics for Clinicians - 2-week course familiarizes participants with the basic principles of biomedical informatics demonstrated by ongoing projects and services across the Greater Los Angeles Consortium. It will describe the use of data standards for representation and exchange of clinical information and the increasing use of controlled vocabularies and ontologies to annotate content. 
    • Therapeutic Discovery and Development - hosted by the UC Center for Accelerated Innovation through CTSI’s Training Program in Translational Science seminar series, this program provides an introduction to strategic and tactical planning for small molecule and antibody therapeutics. The course supports the CTSA’s objective to transform educational and career development programs to build the translational science workforce. 
    UC Irvine
    • The Science of Team Science Boot Camp - This one-day training will equip trainees, investigators, and community partners with best practices for leading and participating in effective team science endeavors. It will include evidence-based training modules on topics such as communication across boundaries, managing virtual teams, strategic planning and team design for clinical and translational research projects and best practices for developing translational grant proposals.
    • Introduction to Systems Biology for Clinical Translational Scientists - The Center for Complex Biological Systems (CCBS) will host this program designed as a preparatory workshop either in Biology or Mathematical/Computational Methods. The course will combine didactic lectures with hands-on laboratory experimentation or tutorials in mathematical/computational modeling. 
    • Regulatory Science for Clinical Research - The twice yearly boot camp will provide training directed primarily at study coordinators to expand their knowledge of and capacity for auditing and monitoring of clinical trials. The expanded skills will create a workforce that can cross-monitor trials, filling a common void in this expertise in academic settings. 
    • Engaging Diverse Communities in Clinical Research - This twice yearly boot camp will be hosted by USC's Workforce Development group and include didactic material on fundamental principles of successful engagement of diverse communities,supplemented by case examples of real-life challenges. The CTSI will share community engagement experiences working with diverse and underrepresented populations, including best practices in participant recruitment, outreach in diverse communities, community health workers as team members, and research with diverse, low-income, pediatric and aging populations.
    • Regulatory Science Boot Camp - This one-day training will equip trainees, investigators, and community partners with best practices for monitoring and auditing for Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and FDA inspections. It will include training modules on topics such as preparation and readiness for GCP and FDA inspection--with a focus on TMF, Source Data Verification (SDV), and Risk Based Monitoring (RBM), auditing of GCP systems for data integrity, sponsor audits and GCP audit processes and checklists for a hospital site audit for a Phase 1 study.

UCLA CTSI & Southern California CTSI

Our hub shares a commitment to improving health in our diverse population with the University of Southern California CTSA. Beginning in 2012 our hubs have collaborated with Los Angeles County on 10 fully partnered team science projects as well as a postdoctoral fellowship training program in mental health. Our hubs have recently broadened this collaboration to form a “research triangle” with Los Angeles County that includes connecting the county’s clinical data warehouse with LADR, which the USC CTSA joined in 2014. LADR, developed and implemented by the UCLA CTSI, will provide unprecedented access to de-identified clinical data and spur both clinical trial accrual and health-services research within the diverse population of Los Angeles. This informatics collaboration also will support projects in the Innovation and Implementation Core.

UCLA CTSI and University of Minnesota CTSI

The UCLA and UMinn CTSIs co-funded three pilot studies in 2013 that address health disparities and health systems problems of importance to Southern California and Minnesota. The awards promote productive, ongoing partnerships between researchers, clinicians and community organizations.

To learn more about these projects, follow this link: http://www.ctsi.ucla.edu/patients-community/pages/research_projects

National CTSA Description

Launched in 2006, the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program now includes over 50 academic medical centers across the country. The program, which is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at NIH, is developing new ways to accelerate collaborative medical research. Each CTSA is crucial to the program’s mission: Accelerating discoveries toward better health.

CTSA Member Institutions

The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program currently has over 50 medical research institutions. Click here for the list of institutions working together to accelerate discoveries toward better health.

National Center for Accelerating Translational Sciences (NCATS)

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) is one of the 27 institutes and centers (ICs) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mission of NCATS is to transform the translational science process so that new treatments and cures for disease can be delivered to patients faster. NCATS supports the national CTSA program.

NCATS website

CTSA Tools

  • REDCap allows users to build and manage online surveys and databases quickly and securely. UCLA CTSI investigators may access REDCap through the following contacts: