The Mountain West Research Consortium is comprised of 11 academic institutions working together to build capacity for transformative biomedical research and improve health outcomes within the Western states region. MWRC was founded by institutions in western states with historically low levels of NIH funding. The consortium provides opportunities for collaboration and research training, as well as access to shared resources and services. Activities include joint pilot funding, VIVO networking, mini-sabbaticals, junior faculty mentoring, and an undergraduate biomedical research pipeline program.
To form a vibrant consortium that strengthens biomedical research activities throughout the Mountain West by leveraging each other's activities.
Background and Strategic Objectives:
In 2009, the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque hosted a meeting of representatives from the Western IDeA states to assess regional challenges and opportunities for building clinical and translational research infrastructure. This meeting was attended by over 20 administrators and scientists from each of the Western IDeA states (except Hawai'i, which joined the consortium later), over 30 administrators and scientists from the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, and by Dr. Sidney McNairy (Director, Division of Research Resources) and Dr. Yanping Liu (Health Scientist Administrator) from the NIH's National Center for Research Resources.
The primary outcome of the meeting was the unanimous agreement to pursue the formation of a consortium for the advancement of clinical and translational science in the Western IDeA states. The consortium members formed a steering committee, made up of INBRE and COBRE PIs and other institutional representatives, and an executive advisory committee of high-level administrators from each institution. Through a memorandum of understanding between member institutions, MWRC established the following strategic objectives:
- Create an effective and efficient system of governance with the Executive and Steering Committees described above
- Establish research infrastructure support mechanisms to share and leverage resources
- Develop pilot fund programs to stimulate collaboration between basic and clinical scientists and provide funding opportunities for junior faculty across the MWRC
- Develop collaborations based on disease and clinical content areas with special consideration of unique populations and environment in the Mountain West region
- Develop websites, databases and other collaborative tools to support the work of the MWRC
With this structure in place, MWRC has since facilitated unique cross-institutional collaborations between basic and clinical scientists, developed data-sharing tools, enhanced support for junior faculty to pursue clinical and translational research projects, and created a very successful summer research program, the Undergraduate Pipeline Network. In 2013, MWRC institutions were awarded a large grant from NIH's IDeA program to build a Clinical and Translational Research - Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN). The CTR-IN enhances many MWRC initiatives and provides new resources to assist investigators in developing skills and accessing services needed to pursue clinical and translational research projects.