Clinical & Translational Science Award

Clinical and Translational Science Award

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) formulated the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) in the early 2000s with the goal of coordinating research across disciplines, across institutions, across the country.  Meharry, in partnership with Vanderbilt University, received a Clinical and Translational Science Award in 2007, and then again in 2012, and now all 60 CTSAs have been awarded by the NIH. Vanderbilt serves as the lead institution for the nationwide consortium.


The strategic goals guiding the consortium are:

  • Build national clinical and translational research capacity
  • Provide training and improve career development of clinical and translational scientists
  • Enhance consortium-wide collaborations
  • Improve the health of our communities and the nation
  • Advance T1 translational research to move basic laboratory discoveries and knowledge into clinical testing


Translational research ‘translates’ laboratory discoveries into treatments and cures. Clinical research is the testing phase of those treatments and cures in the clinical setting among patients. The overall intent of the CTSA Consortium is to facilitate the translation of research from the bench, to the bedside, to the community.

In addition to providing infrastructure support to the College, Meharry’s CTSA leads the Community Engagement Research Core (CERC) for Vanderbilt and Meharry.  One of the major goals of the CERC is to partner with community health care organizations and community physicians and set up academic-community networks to enhance health for all.


Members of the Meharry component of the CTSA are:

Duane Smoot, M.D., Co-Program Director for the CTSA
Desiree Johnson
Zuki-Mwak Takizala

Community Engagement, Partnerships, & Research Tools

Community Engagement and Research Core
A component of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), is the Community Engagement and Research Core (CERC). Through CERC, Meharry and Vanderbilt lend research expertise to community work groups. By way of workshops/training, consultation, mini-grants, educational material, and use of core facilities, the CERC is working one-on-one with communities to improve citizen health and broaden neighbors’ health knowledge. For more information, call 615.936.2565 or send an email to


Community Research Partners
This network of health-minded groups is well represented by both private and civic groups. The Community Research Partnerships—more than 100 strong—meet monthly to discuss topical health matters and possible interventions. The CERC advises the partners on potential research projects and coordinates with members on community activities. Visit the Community Research Partners web site, where you can sign up as a participant.


Research Tools
Two tools designed by Vanderbilt’s CTSA and available to Meharry researchers are starBRITE and ResearchMatch. StarBRITE is a web-based consortium-wide system that facilitates collaborations and provides one-stop shopping for various research needs. ResearchMatch is a national registry that links researchers with volunteers for clinical trials.
For more information about the Clinical and Translational Science Award at Meharry, contact Duane Smoot, M.D. at 615.327.6277 or


Each CTSA is led by a principal investigator, an established clinician scientist, who has the primary responsibility to define objectives and approaches of the CTSA and to oversee the CTSA at a local level as well as collaborate with the national CTSA consortium.

Duane Smoot M.D., F.A.C.P, F.A.C.G., A.G.A.F.
Principal Investigator, Meharry CTSA
Chair, Internal Medicine
Phone: 615.327.6277

Desiree Johnson, M.H.A.
Director, Regulatory Affairs and Research Subject Advocate, IRB