San Antonio, the gateway to South Texas, is the 7^ largest city in the US and the largest metropolitan area with a majority Hispanic population (63%). South Texas is about the size of Ohio, and comprises an impoverished and largely Hispanic population with disproportionate rates of diabetes and obesity, exacerbated by a lack of health insurance and poor access to health care. This region also contains numerous US military installations, and active-duty service members and veterans often have special health issues, including increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic injuries. Unfortunately, neither better access to care nor improved care delivery can eliminate health disparities and meet these complex needs. In addition, research across the full T l to T4 translational spectrum is required to eliminate knowledge gaps and establish real-wortd effectiveness that improves health care for our populations. In 2006, UTHSCSA established the Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS) to improve health and reduce disparities by accelerating scientific discoveries and applications across the full translational research spectrum. For example, IIMS expanded the number of clinical research units that extend to the Texas-Mexico border from 1 to 7, and dramatically increasing participant access to clinical and translational science. We increased, from 2 to 6, the Practice-Based Research Networks that focus on diverse ambulatory populations. Efforts to address translational science workforce needs over the past 5-10 years have graduated 100 Masters Clinical Investigation students, supported 19 successful KL2 Scholars, and established new joint Translational Science PhD and Certificate programs. In this proposal, we provide strategies to spur clinical and translational science evolution, catalyze research teams, and implement programs that produce creative, collaborative, and culturally diverse scientists.
Our Specific Aims will: 1. Accelerate clinical and translational research innovation and effective team science along the entire 11 to T4 research spectrum by providing an academic home integrated with our strategic partner institutions. Expand, diversify, and enhance the workforce of interdisciplinary translational biomedical scientists. Implement effective methods to continuously evaluate and optimize services, increase efficiencies, improve processes, and reduce costs across all IIMS programs.
Based on our vision of improving the health status of South Texas by accelerating scientific discoveries and public health applications, we will deploy strategic resources that focus on prevalent challenges in our region, including: 1) the health needs of our underserved Hispanic population, 2) the special health issues facing active-duty military and veteran populations, and 3) limitations in the translational science workforce required to fill in critical knowledge gaps and improve health in South Texas and the US.