The research vision at Howard University Health Sciences is to expand and develop research in the biomedical sciences to its full potential, with an emphasis on innovation that advocates for the elimination of health disparities. Because a major component of health disparities are caused by non-medical and health care factors, research emphasis will focus on social determinants of health and clinical effectiveness research. These foci will be facilitated through the development of partnerships with the University of Maryland School of Public Health and The Satcher-Cobb Leadership Institute at Howard University (which is in the stage of feasibility testing). Basic cellular and molecular approaches to cures for diseases will be complemented by incorporation of new interdisciplinary research areas, such as bioinformatics, molecular imaging, computational biology, nanotechnology, proteomics and genomics.
Clinical translational science, or the translation of basic science to clinical application, must be sustained to fully realize our strategic mission to advance health through research. In this context, pure (basic) and applied (clinical) research no longer exist as distinct entities. They depend on each other and on the input from industry for the creation of new ideas. Collaborative, multimode researchers are more productive based on the impact of their work, external funding and the number of patents. This model must be incorporated into the research enterprise at Howard University Health Sciences.
To further expand our knowledge base, develop new medical treatments and devices, and address the growing demands for accessible, affordable and personalized health care, we must also embrace a paradigm shift known as convergence . Convergence, merging of distinct disciplines and technologies, will allow Howard University to capitalize on a range of knowledge bases. It is seen as a ‘blueprint for innovation’. This new, integrated approach to research brings together technical tools and designs from engineering, physical sciences and the biomedical/life sciences to speed the process of scientific advancement. Similarly, computational-based technologies and approaches contribute significantly to research in all of these disciplines. Key to integration at Howard University is building a bridge between the Health Sciences and the Colleges of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Science and Arts and Sciences.
Howard University Health Sciences currently holds five prestigious NIH awards that position us for research growth. These awards support the following programs: The Research Centers for Minority Institutions program (with the computational biology and bioinformatics, imaging and proteomic cores); The Georgetown–Howard University Center for Clinical Translational Science (which funds the Clinical Research Unit); Howard University Cancer Center (with the Molecular Genetics, Tissue Repository and Biostatistics cores); Center for Drug Research and Development; DC Developmental Center for AIDS Research. These programs will serve as the foundation required for translational research and convergence science.
Generally, the research vision includes broad goals to:
- reclaim excellence research across Howard University Health Sciences,
- create an environment that embraces interdisciplinary, collaborative research and promotes convergence (or integration) across the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering,
- increase innovation and investigator-initiated research awards, and
- increase total annual research funding to $55 million (in 5 years).