The vision of the Integrative Health Sciences Facility Core (IHSFC) is to enable progressive translational, clinical, and population-based research projects that address environmental health concerns in our region. This vision will be achieved through specific aims, including:
Provide support for collaborative and team-driven efforts among basic scientists, clinical researchers, community engagement experts, and public health researchers. In partnership with the above centers, we will provide services, instrumentation, technologies, and opportunities for cross-communication that foster integration of basic science, public health research including epidemiology and intervention studies, and patient-oriented clinical research.
Provide and manage resources to facilitate the progression of Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) from basic mechanistic and toxicological research to more immediate translational programs that will impact our affected communities by improving public health and/or clinical practice.
Facilitate ‘reverse-translational’ research activities by addressing community concerns or community-level study findings and developing programs to stimulate preclinical research activities at our institution. Using resources such as isolated cell culture studies and relevant animal model systems, we will facilitate research into the mechanisms underlying community environmental health issues.
CENTER INTEGRATION AND IMPACT
The IHSFC serves as the primary institutional access point to specifically facilitate EHS-related translational and clinical studies. This facilitation will include moving studies forward from basic science to clinical science and/or population science studies, and will emphasize reverse efforts to develop cellular and animal studies to support and serve clinical and community observations and concerns.
Interactions with the UK-CARES Cores and Programs
Establishing a multi-directional alignment, the IHSFC will work in conjunction with the Community Engagement Core (CEC) to help bridge the gap between researchers and affected communities by working with the four Research Interest Groups and will provide logistical and operational support for project ideas and concepts that are derived from the community engagement efforts. The Pilot Project Program (PPP) will link core resources to new and evolving studies pilot projects so that they may access key services and tasks for project completion via study support mechanisms in the IHSFC. The Analytical Core (AC) draws on expertise in analytical chemistry, mass spectrometry, and biostatistics for quantitation of relevant analytes in complex biological and environmental samples.
Interactions with Additional Facilities on Campus
The IHSFC benefits from several key available resources on our campus that facilitate research. These include the NIH-funded Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS) grants, the UK Superfund Research Center (UK-SRC), the Human Studies Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and the NCI-designated Markey Cancer Center (MCC). Rather than replicating the established abilities of these other sites, the IHSFC will complement their functions with specific efforts to promote EHS studies in humans via targeted assistance to minimize the barriers for projects to proceed.
It is important to clarify that the IHSFC has the primary mission to catalyze EHS translational and clinical studies, and that no entity on our campus currently serves this important mission. Furthermore, we realize that to have maximum impact, the IHSFC will need to coordinate its efforts and leverage the presence of these other entities to achieve its goals. In many cases, the IHSFC will access (e.g. purchase) key services that are in place via these other programs as appropriate. Drs. Bauer and Sanderson and the IHSFC Oversight and Utilization Committee members all have excellent working relationships with these other campus resources, and therefore we are confident that the IHSFC will serve an important and unique function in our University of Kentucky research community.
Interactions with the Research Interest Groups
The IHSFC is structured as both a central portal for investigators across the spectrum of research and a bridge to services within UK-CARES and elsewhere in order remove barriers. In addition, to build on fresh perspectives that are emerging in any given area and to capitalize on promising strategies that may address critical barriers to progress, the IHSFC will work directly with investigators from the four Research Interest Groups (Cardiopulmonary Diseases, Metabolic Disorders, Cancer, and Child Health and Early Life Exposures) to identify projects with strong potential for translation, identify researchers with different types of expertise but complementary potential, and assist in making connections among them.
The IHSFC will play an active role in continuing development of these transdisciplinary research teams as they refine a novel concept and the research direction evolves. At that stage, the IHSFC and individual research team will work together to determine the nature of services required and employ a body of highly skilled facilitators who serve as first line coordinators of service access and delivery.
Alisa Beth McKinney-Whitlock, College of Medicine
Hong Huang, MD, PhD, College of Medicine
Brandon Schanbacher, MS, College of Medicine
Aric Schadler, PhD, College of Medicine
John D’Orazio, MD, College of Medicine
Francis Feltner, DNP, MSN, RN, FAAN, Center of Excellence in Rural Health