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  • Plans for Growth

  • Peter J. Snyder, PhD, Vice President for Research at Lifespan

    Rhode Island is moving through a turbulent economic period. As one of our state's leading health care and academic institutions, the Lifespan hospital system both shares the financial challenges and contributes daily to building a brighter future. Lifespan continues to energetically develop careful and well-crafted strategic plans for new growth. Despite current economic uncertainties, we see this period as being full of novel opportunities, and we are investing for the future in anticipation of what our vibrant research system will require to remain on the cutting edge of scientific discovery.

    Construction

    The Lifespan hospital system, with Rhode Island Hospital taking the lead, is embarking on an ambitious plan to convert much of the Coro Center, and its 270,000 square feet of space that anchors the historic Jewelry District, into a state-of- the-art Center for Clinical and Translational Research. This building complex will become a visible symbol of the transformation of this area.The center will create many new jobs for the citizens of our state, and new biotechnology businesses will be attracted to our center or will "spin off " as new ventures from the discoveries made within our laboratories.

    Over the past several years we have constructed brand new laboratory facilities in the Coro Center for our orthopedics and bioengineering groups, and for our cardiovascular researchers. We plan to continue the transformation of the Coro buildings this year by constructing 10,000 square feet of new laboratories for our oncology research programs. Then in 2011, we plan to start the construction of a new small animal barrier facility to support critical research across a wide range of disease areas.

    In partnership with both The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the University of Rhode Island, we also plan to begin in 2011 construction of a new Ambulatory Clinical Research Center (ACRC) in the Coro Center to support our clinical trials programs. The University of Rhode Island and, in particular, its schools of pharmacy and nursing will play leading roles in bringing this center to life. The ACRC will not only support our investigators' needs to conduct important clinical trials of novel diagnostics and therapeutics across multiple institutions statewide, but, more importantly, will also bring cutting edge, experimental treatments to our patients in Rhode Island, who deserve to have immediate and easy access to these potentially lifesaving therapies.

    "We are investing for the future in anticipation of what our vibrant research system will require to remain on the cutting edge of scientific discovery."

    Lifespan will be growing in other exciting ways over the next few years. For example, due to the enormous generosity of one family-Elizabeth de Ramel and her children Diana Oehrli, Guillaume de Ramel and Regis de Ramel-through the Frederick Henry Prince Memorial Fund, we are developing plans at Rhode Island Hospital to launch the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute to catalyze and greatly expand our clinical and research efforts across a range of neurological and psychiatric diseases. This institute, in partnership with the Brown Institute for Brain Sciences, will tie our clinical care in the neurosciences to our research efforts. In the coming months we will be announcing how we plan to blend these two endeavors, to offer advanced clinical care that will, in turn, inform our efforts in the brain sciences. Looking ahead, we are continually strengthening our already excellent collegial relations, in support of our shared academic and educational efforts, with both Alpert Medical School and its planned School of Public Health. To this end, we have been working diligently to improve the processes by which our researchers collaborate across our institutions. We hope to build a collaborative office for intellectual and property technology transfer with Brown University, and we are exploring other means for the sharing of critical, and expensive, resources in support of research.

    Moreover, we have opened a new and exciting dialogue with the leadership, faculty and students at the University of Rhode Island, our flagship public university, which is based only 29 miles south of Providence. Our new relationship with the University of Rhode Island has already led to an increase in research collaborations, an exchange of faculty for lectures on both campuses, the new partnership in developing the ACRC, and deeper ties between our institutions.

    Finally, we continually seek to improve our processes for the management and safe conduct of research within our hospitals. As an example, over the next two years we plan to roll out an electronic system to allow our investigators to manage all applications for the ethical conduct of research, and to allow our standing committees, who are charged with protecting the safety and well-being of our research subjects, to manage the roughly 1,500 active studies that are reviewed and considered each year. This next two-year period is going to be one marked by growth in research infrastructure, capacity, and the attraction of new and talented investigators to our hospitals, laboratories and community.