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Eric Schoch
IU School of Medicine

Last modified: Friday, May 14, 2010

NIH-funded renovations at Riley Hospital for Children will boost pediatric clinical research

May 14, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- A new research facility at Riley Hospital for Children will dramatically improve the process of turning the results of laboratory research into new treatments for sick children, federal and local officials said today (May 14).

A grant of nearly $8.5 million to the Indiana University School of Medicine will enable the renovation of a former research floor of the Clarian Health hospital into a state-of-the-art facility for conducting clinical research trials that are designed for children.

Kathleen Sebelius

Photo courtesy of US Dept. of Health and Human Services

U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius

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The IU grant is one of 146 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act construction awards totaling $1 billion to construct, repair and renovate scientific research laboratories and related facilities across the country. The grants were announced here by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, along with IU President Michael A. McRobbie and IU School of Medicine Dean D. Craig Brater.

The grant from the National Center for Research Resources of the NIH, for $8,386,919, will enable the IU School of Medicine to transform a former research floor of Riley Hospital into the pediatric clinical research center. The project comes as the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration, recognizing that children are underrepresented in clinical research, are encouraging investigators to include more children in clinical trials.

"Indiana University is deeply grateful to the National Institutes of Health for this Recovery Act award to the IU School of Medicine," said McRobbie. "This award will greatly impact the future of pediatric research conducted at Riley Hospital for Children. It will provide IU School of Medicine researchers with the facilities and resources they need to conduct path-breaking research into disorders that affect the health and lives of so many of our nation's children."

"The Children's Health and Evaluation Facility will enable us to conduct studies that will improve health care for countless children in the future," said Brater. "For example, most drugs and diagnostics are tested in adults -- but children aren't just little adults. They respond to therapeutics differently than their older counterparts, and this facility will give us the ability to understand those differences."

After renovations are completed in late 2012, the 18,500-square-foot center will house laboratory, bio-storage, office and other research-related space specifically designed to be flexible and accommodate the growing emphasis on collaborations between basic and clinical researchers and among researchers at different institutions. The facility will enable researchers to conduct comprehensive phenotyping, which is the use of many state-of-the-art research techniques to identify more clearly how genetic versus environmental factors contribute to the appearance and ongoing manifestations of a disease.

"This new facility will significantly enhance our ability to conduct the clinical research trials that test the safety and effectiveness of potential new treatments that emerge from our scientific discoveries," said Dr. Mervin Yoder, Richard and Pauline Klingler Professor of Pediatrics and director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research.

Dr. Francis Collins

Photo courtesy of National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health

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Some Wells Center researchers had been housed in the area to be renovated in Riley, but nearly all Wells Center researchers now occupy labs in a research building across the street from Riley Hospital.

"As Indiana's most comprehensive academic health center, research and clinical trials are essential to offering our patients access to leading edge therapies and treatment options," said Daniel Evans, president and CEO, Clarian Health. "This new research facility will benefit patients for years to come by developing new approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatments of childhood diseases."

The new clinical research facility will bridge the gap between the laboratory research facilities and the hospital, neither of which was set up to meet the unique demands of human clinical trials in children, said Yoder.

"The lack of dedicated space to see children and their families to discuss enrollment into clinical trials and to obtain the necessary patient samples for those trials has been a major barrier to conducting research at Riley Hospital," said Dr. Scott Denne, associate chair for clinical research in the Department of Pediatrics.

The Riley facility will include both state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities and laboratories that visiting scientists can use on a short-term basis. Such resources, Denne noted, will further the goals of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), a statewide enterprise involving IU, Purdue and Notre Dame that was created to help speed the movement of scientific discoveries into new therapies and diagnostic products.

"One of our CTSI colleagues from Purdue or Notre Dame could come to this new facility to work with researchers at the medical center, performing tests on patient samples from a clinical trial here instead of shipping them back and forth between institutions," said Denne.

In conclusion, McRobbie said, "This major investment in scientific research and innovation at IU will help to further strengthen our health and life sciences economy, which is so vital to our state's prosperity."