• The Star Staff

UPR’s Medical Sciences Campus lands $15 million NIH grant

By John McPhaul


The Medical Sciences Campus (RCM by its Spanish initials) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) announced Monday that the RCM has been awarded a federal grant for $15 million to establish a resource project called the Hispanic Alliance for Clinical & Translational Research-The ALLIANCE.

“The ALLIANCE award replaces the grant that the Campus previously had with the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and the Puerto Rico Clinical and Translational Research Consortium (The PRCTRC),” RCM Chancellor Dr. Segundo Rodríguez Quilichini said in a written statement. “The grant represents a collaboration between three medical schools in Puerto Rico, including the Ponce Health Sciences University, and the Central University of the Caribbean, as an islandwide team.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant was awarded through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS).

The project will be led by Dr. Carlos Luciano and Dr. Marcia Cruz Correa, principal investigators of the grant, in collaboration with Dr. Diana Fernández from the Central University of the Caribbean and Dr. Pedro Santiago from Ponce Health Sciences University.

The ALLIANCE, a project whose aim is to benefit all of Puerto Rico, will be supporting clinical and translational research, which is the investigation of diseases with patients and in communities, through the strengthening of research infrastructure, laboratories, and faculty development, among other vital areas to support the many researchers at the three institutions and other academic institutions in Puerto Rico.

Cruz Correa, a gastroenterologist-oncologist at RCM, noted that “this grant places Puerto Rico and the University of Puerto Rico in an elite group of researchers nationwide within the IDEA program, since only one grant of this type is awarded by state.”

“For this reason, we became the 12th Center of this prestigious national program, and the only one specifically for Hispanics within these 12 Centers,” she said.

Luciano, who is director of neurology at the School of Medicine, said “La Alianza is a project aimed at uniting the strengths of three of the main academic institutions in Health Sciences in Puerto Rico, focusing on the research of high-risk diseases, frequency in our population and how to address their impact on disadvantaged populations within our population.”

UPR President Dr. Jorge Haddock, meanwhile, stressed that the approval of the grant will have a far-reaching impact on UPR and on the island.

“This is a project that is in line with the institutional objective of continuing to increase high-level research in our portfolio, and that these are [research] that is financed with external funds, supporting the university system as a leader in research, and just as important, providing an opportunity for development for teachers and students, which is even more unique in the historical context in which we find ourselves,” Haddock said. “On behalf of the entire university community, we extend our congratulations and thanks to Dr. Luciano and Dr. Cruz Correa. Their vision, effort and commitment to excellence and the UPR today bear valuable fruit. Congratulations!”

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