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The Festival of Science Background

University of Maryland School of Medicine Advances Into Upper Tier of Major Research Medical Schools

deanUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, has announced a series of major initiatives – including new laboratory space, new technology, new collaborations and new translational research programs -- that will further strengthen the School’s position as one of the fastest growing biomedical research enterprises in the nation.

New Program to Accelerate Innovation and Discovery in Medicine

With the biomedical research community’s growing desire to rapidly translate discoveries made in basic science laboratories into new options for patients, the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine is to become known for its uniquely transforming research. In the coming years, the shared goals of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Medical System include an ambitious plan to significantly increase our federally funded biomedical research—at a time when it is more challenging than ever to do so. We wish to accomplish this by creating a culture where “big science” questions are tackled by collaborative research teams, spanning our entire campus. With the success of this effort, we will be well positioned to seek out and receive a sizable funding base. Working toward this goal will have a positive impact on all the School’s mission areas, as well as the health and wellbeing of citizens in our state and region.

Part of this vision is captured in the Accelerating Discovery and Innovation in Medicine (ACCELMed) initiative, which the School is launching at the “Festival of Science” on November 22, 2013. The event includes presentations from top-notch faculty in the UM School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences and the Departments of Pharmacology and Surgery. It will showcase how we are moving science ahead towards medical advances, and how we are thriving in these challenging times. The Festival is a jumping off point for new directions in our work and for thinking differently about how to approach scientific research questions. The discussions that will ensue with our distinguished members of the Scientific Advisory Council should serve to inspire not just the Festival presenters but also faculty members in the audience.

New Research Space

Dean Reece recently joined University of Maryland, Baltimore President Jay A. Perman, MD in announcing that the University of Maryland is breaking ground on a 428,970-square-foot, 10-story, $305.4 million research facility that will become the largest building on the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s campus.

The facility, which is set to open in January 2018, will provide both the laboratory space and new technology for the School of Medicine to continue to advance scientific discovery and breakthroughs in addressing the most critical disease categories.

“Bench to bedside” research in the new building will allow expanded collaboration opportunities for researchers and practitioners across medical and scientific disciplines and programs in cutting-edge fields such as genome sciences, personalized and genomic medicine, cancer biology, cardiovascular science, brain science, stem cell biology, infection/inflammation science and many other areas.

New Technology

The University of Maryland School of Medicine, working in partnership with Advanced Particle Therapy from California, is in the process of building a new, 122,000-square-foot facility in the University of Maryland BioPark just across Martin Luther King Boulevard from the site of the new Health Sciences Facility. That building, the Maryland Proton Treatment Center, is a $200 million project, bringing to Maryland and Washington, DC, for the first time the most advanced radiation technology in cancer treatment. That facility is scheduled to begin treating patients in 2015.

Collaboration with Private Industry

The School of Medicine recently joined together with the Unviersity in announcing a 5-year $6-million collaboration between the University of Maryland and MedImmune, the global biologics research arm of AstraZeneca. The agreement represents the first of several planned innovative collaborations by MedImmune to actively work with leading regional research institutions and the state to advance Maryland as a top bioscience cluster, with the goal of fostering innovative science and ensuring accelerated development of key medicines. The research projects will be focused on MedImmune’s core therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity; and infectious disease. MedImmune and the University will both contribute funding and scientists to work on joint research projects, and will provide opportunities for scientific exchange and educational training between MedImmune and University of Maryland scientists, students, and postdocs. The University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) will also be integral members of this collaboration.

Access to Bioinformatics and Imaging Resources

Earlier this year, President Perman and Dean Reece announced the establishment of a new center to unite research scientists and physicians across disciplines. The center will employ these interdisciplinary connections to enhance the use of cutting-edge medical science such as genomics and personalized medicine to accelerate research discoveries and improve health care outcomes. Participants in the new University of Maryland Center for Health-Related Informatics and Bioimaging (CHIB) will collaborate with computer scientists, engineers, life scientists and others at a similar center at the University of Maryland, College Park campus, together forming a joint center supported by the M-Power Maryland initiative. 

The CHIB lays the groundwork for this future by proactively creating connections between the outstanding genomics and bioinformatics scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine Institute for Genome Sciences and our research scientists and physicians of all disciplines. This center combines our rich genomics and bioinformatics assets with our world leading research and clinical care programs. The University System of Maryland consortium also provides us access to the invaluable scientific assets of our sister institution, the University of Maryland, College Park.

The new center’s mission is to develop clinical, genetic, imaging, decision-management, patient safety, and public health informatics capacities at the University of Maryland to expressly support research innovation in these important domains. The center will focus on three goals. It will provide support for the genomics, personalized medicine and health care outcomes research missions of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the entire University of Maryland, Baltimore campus. The center also will enhance the School of Medicine’s already close relationship with its partner in clinical care, the University of Maryland Medical System, to explore better health outcomes and improving processes. The center aims as well to accelerate translational research discoveries — those findings that translate basic laboratory science into new techniques and technologies for treatment and diagnosis in the clinic — at all of the institutions that are involved.

As a critical part of the center, a new Research “HARBOR” serves as an interactive web-based platform that provides one-stop shopping for research support needs. Through a centralized hub, researchers at the University of Maryland can access the data warehouse, identify and access research support resources, tools and services, find experts, access regulatory support, learn about educational and training opportunities.

New Core Laboratories

The School of Medicine formally opened in November 2013, its new core biomedical research facilities with funding from National Institutes of Health (NIH) and now officially dedicated by NIH Director Francis Collins as the Center for Innovative Biomedical Resources (CIBR). The new facilities feature the most advanced gene sequencing technology available today, with the ability to generate complete genetic information from a sample within a 48-hour period. The facilities serve as a center of excellence for state-of-the-art technologies, equipment, and expertise that supports biomedical research, clinical practice and health care in the state of Maryland and the region. The new facilities give faculty greater access to sophisticated instrumentation as well as highly-trained technical staff who can offer support to faculty on experimental design, data analysis and interpretation, and provide training for graduate and medical students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. The School of Medicine core directors also provide outstanding support for large, multi-investigator grants, including program project and center grants, and have a proven track record of securing funding.

The School has a successful history of securing shared instrumentation grants, bringing in approximately $25 million in equipment funding. In 2010, it was awarded the largest NIH shared instrumentation grant, totaling nearly $8 million.