2023 Annual Texas Regional CTSA Consortium Meeting
The T1 -T4 Competition and the power of talking the same language in Translational Science: bridging research and the public in 3 minutes!
The Texas Regional CTSA Consortium (TRCC) bonds four CTSA hubs nested in the state of Texas: The Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS) at Houston, the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, the Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (IIMS) at UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and the Institute for Translational Sciences (ITS) at UTMB in Galveston.
The TRCC came into existence in 2011 as a milestone of regional efforts to create a collaborative research network to advance innovative practices in translational science for the health improvement of the people living in Texas. The first TRCC meeting was held in 2012 and hosted by UT-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Since then, this event has gathered leadership members, administrative personnel, investigators, trainees/scholars, and community representatives across the Lone Star State on an annual basis except during the COVID-19 pandemic (2021 and 2022).
On October 4, 2023, the CCTS hosted the 11th 2023 Annual TRCC meeting at UTHealth Houston in Houston. We were privileged to have the NCATS Clinical Innovation Director, Dr. Michael Kurilla, as the guest of honor.
The Annual meeting had a collaboratively designed, well-executed and productive agenda with built-in networking time. The agenda included talks about “Lessons learned from PAR-21-293,” “Integrating Ethics into the Translational Science,” an inter-institutional T1-T4 in 3 (minutes) trainee competition, a poster session, and break-out sessions including a report-out.
This in-person meeting created networking opportunities for investigators from the four hubs to establish future collaborations. In addition, the community representative attendees could share their experiences and discuss additional ways to become more involved in the consortium projects such as participating in developing research ideas, reviewing materials related to recruitment of participants, and facilitating exchange of information with their communities.
The TRCC hubs deem that to effectively translate scientific discoveries into improvements impacting health for all, researchers must actively engage with the public. Translational research and community interaction are synergistic: involvement of the community enhances the relevance of translational research by unearthing “real world” concerns. Additionally, community-led research is largely empowered by the community’s willingness to actively participate and be part of the research-generated solutions to maximize their impact and adoption. One of the goals of the TRCC is to enhance community engagement, thereby helping to overcome several roadblocks encountered by translational researchers within our region, for example the limited participation in clinical research of some minority communities served by our CTSAs.
In keeping with the goal of increasing community engagement and translating discoveries to improve the health of all, the agenda included the T1-T4 in 3 (minutes) Competition. The T1-T4 in 3 (minutes) is an adaptation of the University of Queensland’s Three Minute Thesis contest in which T trainees or K scholars from three TRCC hubs were challenged to effectively communicate their research projects to a panel of judges, including community representatives and the meeting audience. The T1-T4 in 3 (minutes) competitors were given only 3 minutes to present a summarized version of their work, with focus on a unique aspect of Translational Science connecting their research to lay people.
The overall purpose of the T1-T4 in 3 (minutes) Competition was to improve the trainees/scholars’ capacity to effectively communicate complex research projects to a non-scientific audience. Challenging young investigators to “translate” their research and make it more digestible and compelling to the public and community stakeholders furnishes them with a valuable skill: the ability to “talk” to the people they serve; to connect with them and learn their wants, needs and values, and so be able to successfully translate science into practice. The T1-T4 in 3 (minutes) Competition was exceptionally well-received by the community representative judges and attendees.
The 2023 Annual TRCC meeting had a great turnout with a 48% increase in attendance compared to the previous year. An anonymous post-meeting survey, which was answered by over 50% of the attendees, authenticated that this event provided an “incredible opportunity to network, collaborate and explore additional areas of research interests.” To see more quotes from attendees at the 2023 Annual TRCC meeting. - click here.
Everything is big in Texas as is the population diversity. We have a diversity index of 61.1% and home of over 30 million residents including White 61.6%; Black 12.4%; Hispanic 18.7%; and Asian 6%.
The Texas Regional CTSA Consortium spotlights community members as key team players along with research investigators in all translational initiatives thus, highlighting the importance of “talking the same language” to successfully “translate” research into improved health outcomes in Texas.