Transforming biomedical discoveries into clinical diagnostics and therapeutics is a highly complex, expensive, and cumbersome task that takes many years.

The Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is a partnership between Boston University and Boston Medical Center launched in 2008 with funding from the National Institutes of Health, which has been tasked with the mission of expediting this process.

CTSI is funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, and grant UL1TR001430.

The CTSI serves as a center of expertise which provides tools, services, and resources to clinical and translational investigators to maximize the impact of their discoveries and speed the translation of their research to the bedside. In particular, we are committed to improving the health of vulnerable populations through novel discovery approaches and by engaging these populations in the research enterprise.

Our Mission and Aims

Our vision is shaped and supported by CTSI’s two unique strengths: our long history of a caring and scientific relationship with a diverse patient population and the rich scientific enterprise within the BU community.

We have noted that individual and incremental local and national solutions to the inefficiencies in translational science have not had a lot of impact. On the contrary, we find our greatest successes occur when we employ team approaches to problems. As a result, the CTSI has succeeded in meeting many of the challenges of T1 through T4 translational science because we have bridged these environments through innovative collaborative processes. Figure 1 emphasizes the local, highly-integrated, interconnected, and interdependent nature of our network. As a result, every CTSI interaction with the CTSA Network brings to the collaboration the full strength of an expanded portfolio of our resources to expedite progress in translational research. While we present many types of solutions to barriers in translational science, we strongly endorse NCATS’ emphasis on multi-disciplinary team approaches to manage complexities and create innovative programs.

The CTSI’s vision is to be the strongest advocate for research that represents the needs of our diverse populations by creating superior resources that can reliably be transferred to the national CTSA Network.

In an effort to do better research and do research better, CTSI’s aims are centered around four key focus areas:

  • Discover, demonstrate, deploy, and disseminate novel TRAINING methods that will enhance our entire translational science workforce
  • Effect meaningful research relationships with all COMMUNITIES AND STAKEHOLDERS that empower bi-directional contributions to strengthen translational research across the lifespan
  • Use our unique, full-spectrum RESEARCH strengths to discover, develop, and disseminate improved treatments and diagnostics that address the problems of our community and nation
  • Share innovative best practices with other hubs in the national CTSA network, and COLLABORATE in the conduct of coordinated, multi-center, translational research


BU CTSI leadership: Dr. David M. Center, MD, is the director of the CTSI. He is Gordon and Ruth Snider Professor of Pulmonary Medicine and associate provost for clinical translational research. Also the chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at BMC, Dr. Center has directed CTSI since its inception in 2008. An accomplished scientist, and clinical and research administrator and educator, his experience and qualifications include 34 years of individual and program research grants from NIH, focusing on the immunology of lung disease; a breadth of research approaches including cell-, animal-, and human-bases studies; over 150 manuscripts and 30 US patents. He is a former chair of both NIH and American Thoracic Society study sections and numerous national committees. As the Principal Investigator of an NHLBI T32 training program, he is deeply committed to multidisciplinary research and research training, including clinician scientists. In the past two years, he has been elected to the National Academy of Inventors, elected a Fellow of the AAAS and awarded the Edward Livingston Trudeau Medal of the American Thoracic Society, its highest honor for accomplishment in lung diseases and service to the society.

Dr. Center is assisted by two directors: Dr. David Felson, director of workforce development, and Dr. George O’Connor, director of clinical research.

Dr. Felson is professor of epidemiology and medicine and one of the world’s leading experts in osteoarthritis of the knee. He has over 450 publications and numerous patents on devices to decrease stress on the knee. He is the author of our K30 program and has mentored over three dozen MD clinical scholars.

Dr. O’Connor is an internationally known clinical researcher in the field of chronic lung diseases of adults and children. He is one of BU/BMC’s most experienced investigators, with more than 22 years of continuous NIH funding of both epidemiologic studies and randomized controlled trials. Dr. O’Connor headed the Framingham Heart Study Pulmonary epidemiology program.

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