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Integrated Clinical and Research Ensembles (ICRE) Award Updates

Integrated Clinical and Research Ensembles (ICRE) Award Updates

2021 CTSI Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies Program (PTCS) Integrated Clinical and Research Ensembles (ICRE) Awards

As part of CTSI’s Clinical and Translational Science Award 3.0 that was funded last year, the Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies (PTCS) Program drives a coordinated inter-institutional granting mechanism to stimulate, evaluate, and fund pilot and collaborative clinical and translational research.

In this award, the PCTS provides funding and project management for development of Integrated Clinical and Research Ensembles. These multidisciplinary teams are based on the Mutually Learning Tri-lateral Ecosystem (see figure 1) model, which brings together scientists, clinicians, and members of the health care system and the community of stakeholders around topics of mutual interest to advance research along the translational continuum.  These grants will focus on developing these Ensembles and will fund proposals that include specific team development activities in concert with strategic preliminary work on the identified unmet patient need.

The Ensembles will be comprised of adaptable membership depending on areas of interest including invited national and international experts from outside the Hub. Membership is intentionally diverse, drawing on the strengths of a robust team of stakeholders. They will focus on self-selected, unmet medical needs or patient problem-based hypotheses that can be addressed by these skilled multidisciplinary teams.  A main goal of this RFA was the integration of investigators from CTSI partner institutions to build these multi-institutional multidisciplinary teams.

Fourteen proposal applications were submitted on February 1, 2021 with an anticipated project start date for the 4-5 awardees beginning in June 2021.

Pre-Ensemble Development Updates

Over the past year, several CTSI pre-Ensembles have formed and are receiving CTSI project management support to develop proposals and apply for funding to transition to Ensembles. Below is a brief description from a few teams identifying their unmet medical needs and the potential Ensemble products that aim to bring more medical solutions, more quickly, to patients in Southeast Wisconsin:

Heal the Healer

This team lead by Dr. Subhashish Agarwal focuses on implementing a mindfulness intervention to reduce health care provider burnout. Health care providers are subjected to unique occupational stressors that place them at greater risk of burnout in comparison to the general population. Many negative outcomes are associated with stress and burnout among health care providers, not just personally but also for their families, patients, and workplaces. The team, comprised of behavioral health, neurology, community engagement and fMRI experts, will study a mindfulness intervention in a proof of concept trial with 25 participants.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Dr. Poonam Beniwal-Patel is leading a team with the idea to create a platform for patients who are at high risk factors for IBD disease complications.  If a patient is defined as high-risk, then they are enrolled in IBD clinic and connected with: pharmacist, social worker, IBD nurse, ostomy nurse, and a phycologist.  The end goal would be to diminish or eliminate ER visits, non-compliance, and vaccinations.

CAR T Survivorship

A multidisciplinary team of highly specialized experts led by Dr. Jennifer Knight to evaluate two important aspects of cancer survivorship following CAR T therapy: patient-reported financial toxicity and the neurobiological effect of its associated stress physiology. Results from this study will serve as a first detailed look at patient-related outcomes, including financial toxicity, and gene expression among CAR T recipients.

Ensemble Progress Reports

In early 2020, the Integrated Clinical and Research Ensemble Review Committee approved eight Ensembles to receive a $50,000 line of credit. The Review Committee is now conducting evaluation of Progress Reports for those research groups to assess their team dynamics, goal progression, and future milestones. Many of these teams have already begun producing significant academic and scholarly research products. The Ensemble concept is still very new and data collection and analysis of team progression is key towards understanding how to improve the Ensemble Program.  With this evaluation, teams can receive critical guidance for continued success while CTSI examines trends that can inform future success of the program.

If you are interested in either learning more about the CTSI Integrated Clinical & Research Ensembles, joining an existing Ensemble, or starting your own team, please contact Mike Anello (manello@mcw.edu) and David Zimmerman (dzimmerman@mcw.edu).

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important Reminder – Please acknowledge the NIH when publishing papers, patents, projects, and presentations resulting from the use of CTSI resources by including the NIH Funding Acknowledgement.


Children's Hospital of WisconsinMarquette UniversityMSOEUWMVersitiVA Medical Center