Musculoskeletal center wins $3.8 million research grant

October 19, 2007

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) has won a $3.8 million grant renewal from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for research into inflammatory, arthritic and musculoskeletal diseases and their treatments.

The award allows the UAB CERTs, one of 14 centers in the nation, to continue its often-cited research on the safety and effectiveness of new therapeutics for these diseases. The UAB CERTs works diligently to move these new therapeutics into the clinical-testing phase for potentially widespread use.

Additionally, the renewal funds will help UAB CERTs continue its work at reducing treatment disparities among minority communities where musculoskeletal diseases are a problem. Focusing on such disparities is accomplished through physician, health-care training and community outreach programs, said Kenneth Saag, M.D., M.Sc., professor of in the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology and director of the UAB CERTs.

"At a time when there is increasing scrutiny over the safe and cost effective use of drugs, medical devices and biologics, our mission is very important. Our many talented researchers throughout UAB and within CERTs make this mission possible." Saag said.

"Entering our third cycle of funding, we are very pleased to be part of this national group, and to be in a class of 14 nationwide is an honor," he said.

Other areas of focus within UAB CERTs are the development of more effective policies for treating these disease, and educational programs for physicians who see musculoskeletal patients through their own medical practice.

CERTs also led a worldwide push to better understand how existing musculoskeletal treatments should be used within the framework of newer therapeutic discoveries for conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.

UAB's $3.8 million grant is part of a total $41.6 million funding award announced to expand the CERTs program through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of health and human services. The number of CERTs has increased to 14, up from less than a dozen a few years ago.
-end-
The other centers are Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland; Duke University in Durham, N.C.; Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Boston; Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston; The Critical Path Institute in Tucson, Arizona; Cincinnati's Children's Hospital Medical Center; Vanderbilt University in Nashville; University of Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in Camden; University of Iowa in Iowa City; and Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

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