The University of Alabama at Birmingham has added a unique new center designed to serve as a national resource for medical rehabilitation researchers. The REACT Center — Rehabilitation Research Resource to Enhance Clinical Trials — offers training, consultation, funding and additional tools to catalyze high-impact interdisciplinary clinical trials. The center is one of six similarly funded nationwide by the National Institutes of Health’s P2C grant program. REACT will also serve as the nation’s first coordinating center for the six centers, sponsored primarily by the NIH National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research.
The $5.7 million, five-year REACT award commenced in October 2015, with the coordinating center, or MR3 Network — National Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource Network — launched in February 2016. Principle investigator Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., serves as director of REACT, as well as the MR3 Network Coordinating Center.
“Research in medical rehabilitation is poised for substantial innovation and progress as biology, biosensors, and other devices and treatments become increasingly advanced,” said Bamman, professor in the UAB Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology with secondary appointments in the Departments of Medicine and Neurology in the UAB School of Medicine. Bamman is also director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine, and founder of the National Exercise Clinical Trials Network.
“We are very pleased to establish this center — the first of its kind in the region — here at UAB, to provide the needed resources and training to investigators pursuing rigorous, single-site and multisite clinical trials in medical rehabilitation,” Bamman said. “Taking a scientific idea from concept to trial is an interdisciplinary effort, facilitated by pooling resources and expertise. We have therefore established a strong, interdisciplinary team of REACT scientists and leaders across the UAB schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Health Professions.”
The center aims to provide a complete network of resources, training tools, consultative services, networking opportunities (including data and information sharing) and vouchers to help fund pilot projects and consultative services. A key collaborative partner helping to support REACT is Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Collaborative and Interactive Technologies.
“The REACT team features expertise in a range of backgrounds that, combined, will serve to catalyze and streamline high-impact clinical trials in the exciting field of medical rehabilitation,” said Gary Cutter, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, REACT associate director and leader of the center’s consultation component.
|Medical rehabilitation research aims to optimize strategies that promote recovery and/or rehabilitation from a wide array of acute and chronic diseases and conditions. This includes studies on preventive strategies, comorbid and secondary conditions, assistive devices, environmental supports, and enhancing participation. It includes basic and clinical studies across the domains of impairment, pathophysiology, functional limitation, disability and societal interaction.|
Medical rehabilitation research aims to optimize strategies that promote recovery and/or rehabilitation from a wide array of acute and chronic diseases and conditions. This includes studies on preventive strategies, comorbid and secondary conditions, assistive devices, environmental supports, and enhancing participation. It includes basic and clinical studies across the domains of impairment, pathophysiology, functional limitation, disability and societal interaction. While the center’s primary focus is on physical limitations, cognitive, behavioral and emotional conditions are also considered.
“REACT and the MR3 Coordinating Center are exciting additions to the cadre of clinical trial research programs based here at UAB,” said Selwyn Vickers, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. “We’re pleased to be part of this dynamic collaboration to enhance research in medical rehabilitation and advance this crucial field.”
In addition to resources for clinical trials training, consultation and pilot studies, REACT hosts a biosensor technology laboratory that enables researchers to evaluate the validity and reliability of novel and existing tools and technology used for remote data collection in clinical trials. These include home-based monitoring and intervention technologies, such as biosensors or mobile health apps.
“Access to other P2C resource centers and investigators across the national MR3 Network is a unique asset to researchers looking to collaborate,” said Gerald McGwin, Ph.D., director, REACT biosensor technology laboratory.
REACT will help to catalyze the success of medical rehabilitation researchers through its pilot studies program, which will provide seed funds and other resources for the conduct of innovative pilot projects needed to shape more definitive clinical trials.
“These studies will focus on a broad range of chronic diseases and acute conditions, such as muscle, bone or joint diseases; neurodegenerative or neurodevelopmental diseases; traumatic injury; stroke; cancer; aging/frailty; or post-surgical rehabilitation. They will help to improve outcomes of medical rehabilitation in a variety of diseases affecting a large number of individuals in the U.S.,” said S. Louis Bridges Jr., M.D., Ph.D., director of the REACT pilot core and director of the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology. Full details about pilot studies are available on the center’s website.
The other five P2C-funded centers in the MR3 Network are: Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation, University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston; National Center for Simulation in Rehabilitation Research, Stanford University; Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances and Technology, Simbex, Dartmouth College and Boston University; Alliance for Regenerative Rehabilitation Research & Training, University of Pittsburgh; and National Center of Neuromodulation for Rehabilitation, Medical University of South Carolina.
Read more about the network here. REACT is supported by NIH grant P2CHD086851, and the MR3 Network coordinating center is supported by a supplement to this grant.
REACT and the MR3 Network will be represented at the upcoming “Rehabilitation Research at NIH: Moving the Field Forward” workshop held at the National Institutes of Health, May 25-26. REACT will also host a clinical trials workshop at the NIH on Sept. 29-30, featuring medical rehabilitation investigators and clinical trials specialists from around the country.