Translational research at Colorado State University: capitalizing on collaboration

Tracy L. Webb College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

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 DVM, PhD
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Sue VandeWoude College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

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 DVM, DACLAM

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Despite technological advances in the last 50 years, significant gaps exist in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. More than 90% of promising therapeutics fail prior to reaching the patient’s bedside, and even when successful, it takes an average of 15 years and over $1 billion for products to reach the human market. Translational research, defined by the NIH as “the process of turning observations in the laboratory, clinic, and community into interventions that improve the health of individuals and the public,” can accelerate discovery through focused and intentional investigation into identified problems. The goal of such translation is to develop more effective and efficient diagnostics, therapeutics, novel procedures, and behavioral alterations leading to positive health outcomes. Veterinarians and veterinary researchers are trained in population and individual animal medicine and surgery and view health and disease through a comparative lens. Working alongside basic science, public health, and MD researchers, veterinarians can make a tremendous impact in research scholarship by using a one-health approach.

Colorado State University’s (CSU’s) College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) has a long history of focus and excellence in translational research and one health, highlighted by the expanding efforts of CSU’s One Health Institute, Translational Medicine Institute (TMI), Flint Animal Cancer Center (FACC), and Veterinary Health System. CSU CVMBS basic and applied science researchers in infectious diseases, cancer biology, reproductive biology, neuroscience, environmental and radiologic health, and public health fields contribute to a robust and diverse research portfolio that attracts more than $50 million in annual extramural funding.

Research efforts involve the entire disease process and research spectrum, from assessing current diagnostic and therapeutic practices to determining causality and novel diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative options. The current translational efforts involve teamwork to harness the power of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, physiology, pathology, immunology, biobanking, informatics, and clinical trials conduct to improve patient care and outcomes.

CSU investigations with transitional applications focus on many of the most impactful health concerns facing veterinary and human medicine. CSU is an epicenter for prion, arboviral, mycobacterial, and other infectious disease research through the Infectious Disease Research and Response Network. CSU has been a leader in cancer research and development of translational clinical trials through the FACC’s One Cure campaign. The recently launched Edward A. Hoover Feline Cancer Research Initiative core capitalizes on multipronged efforts to further understand common causes of feline gastrointestinal illness with ramifications for human gastrointestinal disease. CSU is at the forefront of veterinary neurology and neuroscience research investigating novel diagnostics and treatments for seizures, brain tumors, aging, nutritional disorders, and cognitive dysfunction. Musculoskeletal disease, a significant concern in horses, dogs, and humans, is an area of intense investigation in the Equine Orthopedic Research Center, Orthopedic Movement and Mobility service, and expanded studies in the CSU TMI. CSU veterinary clinician-scientists are pioneering progress in canine cardiovascular surgery, minimally invasive procedures, regenerative medicine therapies, and trauma, all aimed at providing improved patient care. Many other examples of natural animal model success stories are in progress, highlighting the knowledge gained from the patient populations served by veterinary teaching hospitals.

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Translational research provides solutions to health needs through process improvements and innovative methods.

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 84, 9; 10.2460/ajvr.23.07.0157

Strength comes from partnerships and shared purpose, and CSU is an affiliated institution of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (https://cctsi.cuanschutz.edu), with the goal of accelerating and catalyzing the translation of innovative science into improved health and patient care. CSU is also strongly invested in the Clinical and Translational Science Award One Health Alliance (https://www.ctsaonehealthalliance.org), a group of veterinary schools partnered with medical and other colleagues through an NIH Clinical Translational Science Award to advance understanding of diseases shared by humans and animals.

CSU CVMBS’s mission is to improve the health of animals, people, and the planet through innovative and dedicated teaching, research, outreach, and clinical service. The college is committed to training the next generation of clinician-scientists to continue the legacy of pursuing impactful and sustainable solutions. Identifying our biggest needs in providing veterinary care allows us to work together to solve problems that truly make a difference.

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