10 U A B C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R 11

research update

B y G R E G W I L L I A M S

T he aim of the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) is to accelerate research for improved human health while making it easier for patients to take part in clinical trials. CCTS research covers every phase of translation from the first idea, to the first test, to large-scale clinical trials, to moving a proven treatment into health practices and encouraging its adoption as a standard approach.

To support that goal, the CCTS recognized the need for a facility at which patients could receive both FDA-approved and experimental drugs in one place. That place became the Phase I Clinical Trials Unit on the 15th floor of Jefferson Tower. In phase I trials, researchers test experimental drugs or treatments in a small group of people for the first time to evaluate safety, identify side effects and determine safe dosage.

This Phase I Unit will enable the CCTS along with its UAB and network partners to move novel compounds into phase I trials that improve the health of our patients, while making the process more conve- nient and comfortable, says Robert Kimberly, M.D., CCTS director and senior associate dean of research at the UAB School of Medicine.

The Phase I Unit is a nearly 8,000-square-foot expansion of the existing CCTS Clinical Research Unit (CRU), which has operated since 2008. The School of Medicine initially renovated the space for CCTS use and invested again in 2012 to create expanded capacity in the Phase I Clinical Trials Unit. The expansion is significant for the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, which routinely conducts as many as 200 clinical research trials at a time.

The Phase I Clinical Trials Unit represents a unique opportunity for collaboration between the CCTS and the Comprehensive Cancer Center two entities that often overlap in mission, says Burt Nabors, M.D., medical director of the CCTS Clinical Research Unit and director of the Division of Neuro-Oncology. This unit s opening allows us to expand into patient

therapy and increase our phase I research, both of which will improve the lives of patients.

The expansion adds five new treatment rooms and a second infusion suite with nine chairs to the CRU s existing five treatment rooms and six infusion chairs. Complementing the clinical facilities, a core laboratory within the CRU space facilitates the quick and careful processing of research specimens, including DNA as part of studies exploring the genetic basis of disease.

Existing space is being converted into a research pharmacy, which will store and prepare experimen- tal therapies. Prior to the expansion, this process had occurred off-site at the UAB Hospital pharmacy. The Phase I Unit also features a new reception area, nurses station and family waiting room with spectacular views of the surrounding metropolitan area. Dedicated park- ing for visiting patients is available on the building s second floor.

The School of Medicine is proud to support the CRU expansion to create the Phase I Clinical Trials Unit, says Anupam Agarwal, M.D., interim dean of the School of Medicine. In working closely with our NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center to establish the new unit as part of the CCTS CRU, it became evident that having a coordinated trans-insti- tutional system in place would drive efficiency, quality and cost-effectiveness.

The expansion

is significant

for the UAB

Comprehensive

Cancer Center,

which routinely

conducts as

many as 200

clinical research

trials at a time.