ACTSI and Emory: Setting the Stage for Biomedical Commercialization

In 2007, Emory partnered with neighboring institutions the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Georgia Institute of Technology to establish the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute (ACTSI). This multi-institutional alliance was launched via a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) obtained from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

ACTSI, CTSA, NCATS? All these acronyms may be hard to keep straight, but one thing is for sure: they mean big opportunities for Atlanta.

The mission of the NCATS is to revolutionize clinical science in order to more effectively develop treatments and cures for disease.

CTSA grants are awarded in order to improve and accelerate the bench-to-bedside process and have been granted to only 60 institutions in the entire country to date. Emory University’s own David Stephens, M.D., Vice President for Research and Department of Medicine chair is the principal investigator of the award that funds ACTSI.

This funding source, renewed in 2012, has made available more than $36 million dollars that ACTSI is using to advance patient care via improved scientific discovery.

The work of ACTSI has had a profound impact in short life. To date, ACTSI has contributed to supporting 673 investigators, 520 clinical projects, 147 pilot projects, and 661 scientific publications. More specifically, through direct support from ACTSI, cutting-edge research in transplantation has led to the development of belatacept, used in the prevention of rejection as well as the first human hand transplant in the southeast. Other highlights include: ACTSI’s support towards development of a universal flu vaccine and support of spinal stem cell transplants that could be the first treatment for ALS.

Finally, ACTSI has facilitated work on the preclinical side of development, by supporting the development of primate animal models for both Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease.  These models are critical for both understanding the etiology of these diseases and ultimately identifying treatments or even a cure.

ACTSI has worked to develop unique resources at Emory that inspire collaboration and support the evolution and development of innovative solutions for clinical problems.  ACTSI has proven a valuable resource that sets the stage for a beneficial commercial partnerships with Emory University.