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  • Groundbreaking Research

    COBRE ResearchBeing a thriving center of research has a positive effect on patient care, as research discoveries move from bench to bedside through Lifespan’s research programs. The most significant medical advances occur in translational research, and teaching hospitals like ours are ideal places to nurture and grow this kind of research activity.

    During the most recent fiscal year, Lifespan’s external research funding reached an all-time high of nearly $83 million in grants and contracts, which demonstrates the creativity, ingenuity and importance of the biomedical and behavioral research conducted at Lifespan. Over 350 faculty members are engaged in research and these activities employ more than 550 talented research support staff, which directly impacts the Rhode Island economy.

    Lifespan supports collaboration among researchers, who work across disciplines, hospitals, and institutions. This collaboration, at the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute, the Orthopedics Institute, the Cardiovascular Research Center, and the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, among others, pools the combined talents and expertise of our researchers to advance medicine. Our scientists and physicians excel at research in cancer, heart disease, dementia and diseases of aging, weight control and diabetes, and mental illness and developmental disorders—among the nation’s most common conditions that shorten lives, reduce quality of life, carry significant costs, and create a major burden for caregivers. Much of the ongoing, in-depth research by Lifespan researchers occurs in the following areas:

    • Brain Research: The Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute provides the highest caliber patient care and conducts exceptional basic, translational and clinical research into disorders of the brain and nervous system.

    • Pediatric Mental Health Research: The Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center is engaged, on average, in more than 50 diverse research projects at any one time. Projects encompass neuroscience, genetics, social science, prevention, intervention and health disparities and health services research.

    • Cardiovascular Research: Researchers at the Cardiovascular Institute are at the forefront of cutting-edge cardiac research, much of it translational research, which brings new discoveries and treatments directly from the lab to the patient. Our patients are frequently offered the opportunity to participate in clinical research, giving them access to the newest treatments.

    • Cancer Research: Researchers at Lifespan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center have been nationally recognized for their work. In 2002, Rhode Island Hospital received an $8.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) to establish the COBRE Center for Cancer Research Development at Rhode Island Hospital. In 2009, the hospital’s COBRE Center received a five-year renewal of $11.2 million in total funding to continue cancer research at Rhode Island Hospital, and in the same year received an $11 million COBRE grant to fund research to study basic stem cell biology.

    • Orthopedics Research: In 2007, at a time of intense competition for federal funding for biomedical research, Rhode Island Hospital received one of the largest grants in the hospital’s history—an $11.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) to establish the COBRE for Skeletal Health and Repair. The COBRE center works to improve preventive strategies or treatments for joint diseases, which affect an estimated 46 million Americans. Orthopedics Institute researchers at Rhode Island Hospital also received a $2.2 million grant from the United States Department of Defense to support their work on a treatment that may prevent posttraumatic osteoarthritis, a common condition in men and women who suffer injuries to the knee and hip.

    • Infectious Diseases Research: Division of Infectious Diseases researchers conduct ongoing studies in a wide variety of areas, including antimicrobial drug discovery, bacteriology, infection control and hospital epidemiology, mycology, and basic virology. Researchers at The Miriam Hospital received an $8.5 million, five-year renewal grant from the National Institutes of Health to support the continued growth of the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).

    • Behavioral and Preventive Medicine: The Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at The Miriam Hospital conduct basic research on the mechanisms underlying behavioral factors in health, as well as to applied research on the translation of these discoveries for clinical and community health improvements. Areas of research include cancer survivorship, cardiovascular behavioral medicine, diabetes, genetics, health communications and technology, health disparities, HIV/AIDS, maternal-infant-child studies, neurobehavioral mechanisms, nicotine and substance abuse, sleep medicine and weight control.

    In addition to ongoing research in these areas, important studies are always underway throughout our hospitals. Recent significant discoveries made by Lifespan scientists include advances in research for a new treatment for malaria, and for protecting babies who are exposed to schistosomiasis (a parasitic worm infestation that is common in many parts of the Third World). We also launched a comprehensive statewide network of researchers and agencies that are cooperating in an unprecedented fashion to discover the root causes of – and best interventions for – autism in children.

    Lifespan: Delivering health with care.