This week, the University of Texas (UT) System announced the launch of an innovative clinical trials network with the aim of getting the drugs and therapies developed by researchers at UT institutions to patients faster. The network, called Clinical Trial Xpress, will fulfill this aim by coordinating clinical trials among multiple institutions throughout the UT system, which will shorten the average time it currently takes to complete a clinical trial as a single institution.
In a University press release announcing the launch, Dr. Patricia Hurn, PhD, UT System’s vice chancellor for research and innovation, stated, “This is an extraordinary opportunity for UT System researchers and industry partners to accelerate the translation of new pharmaceuticals and treatments into clinical care. It responds to an increasing need in the U.S. for collaboration between academia and industry. Clinical Trials Xpress will further establish The UT System and its institutions as world-class leaders in clinical research.”
The Clinical Trials Xpress’s central office will be located at the Texas Medical Center in Houston. This central network office will coordinate with each participating institution’s clinical division and other campus offices associated with clinical research.
The inaugural UT partnering institutions will include:
- UT Medical Branch at Galveston
- UTHealth in Houston
- UT Health Science Center at San Antonio
- UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
- UT Southwestern Medical Center
As the network progresses, there are plans to incorporate additional UT institutions.
In a statement concerning the importance of this multi-institutional collaboration, Dr. David McPherson, MD, chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at UTHealth in Houston, said “Clinical Trials Xpress is a novel way that multiple UT institutions can effectively compete for high impact clinical trials by bringing a single institutional review board, common contracting and standardized implementation programs to the table. This program drops most major barriers to university participation in important clinical research that can be translated for better patient care.”
This sentiment was shared by Dr. McPherson’s colleague Dr. Robert Toto, MD, associate dean and translational science professor at UT Southwestern Medical School, “Clinical Trials Xpress will provide a network to test the efficacy of drugs and therapies developed at The UT System’s research institutions, while decreasing the time it takes to reach patients who need them the most.”
Funding for this initiative comes from the UT System Board of Regents and created in collaboration with the Texas Regional CTSA Consortium (TRCC), a System-wide consortium of National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) programs.
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and an enrollment of more than 214,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $15.6 billion (FY 2015) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.