Integrative Health Sciences Facilities Core

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Co-Directors: Prof. Michael Yaffe and Prof. James Fox


MIT's recent signing of the Master Reciprocal Common IRB Reliance Agreement

The CEHS research portfolio extends from basic studies of the physics and chemistry of our environment, to clinical studies of how exposure impacts human health and, then ultimately to policy recommendations that protect and improve public health and human welfare. The Integrative Health Sciences Facilities Core (IHSFC) enhances the impact of laboratory research by lowering the barriers to clinical translation of basic studies into new clinical practice.  In doing so, the IHSFC amplifies the impact of the CEHS by helping to deliver our science and engineering advances to help people. The strength of the IHSFC lays in its leadership, which is comprised of basic researchers, leaders in technology development, animal researchers, clinicians, and an epidemiologist. While a great strength of the IHSFC is its clinical connection and support, it is important to note that the IHSFC facilitates translations at all levels from the most basic research, to animal and human studies and ultimately to work that impacts policy.

A strength of the IHSFC is its relationship with the MIT Clinical Research Center (CRC). The MIT CRC offers a wide range of services that serve to enable translational research, with particular emphasis on facilitation of human studies. Dr. Catherine Ricciardi serves as both the Hospital Liason of the IHSFC and also as the Nurse Director of the MIT CRC. The IHSFC in collaboration with the MIT CRC provides members of the CEHS community with access to the translational support that they need for their clinically-oriented research. Importantly, the MIT CRC provides a laboratory that enables researchers to collect and store human samples in a fashion that is fully compliant with MIT’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) to meet the Federal regulations.

Together, the IHSFC and the MIT CRC will provide scientists and clinicians with: (i) assistance in the design of the clinical projects and epidemiological survey tools; (ii) access to expertise to guide in the protocol submission/approval process; (iii) appropriate clinical staff to safely operationalize research practice by employing the Good Clinical Practice (GCP); (iv) a facility to perform clinical investigation (including human sample collection and access to human subjects); and (v) biostatistics expertise for data analysis.

In addition to the integrative support offered by the IHSFC in partnership with the MIT CRC, members of the CEHS also benefit from the relationship between the MIT CRC and the Harvard Catalyst (also known as the Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC; see http://catalyst.harvard.edu/home.html). Through the combined support of the IHSFC translational consultants and the MIT CRC leadership, members of the CEHS community are connected to researchers and clinicians associated with the Harvard Catalyst consortium. Through the IHSFC, collaborations are fostered that enable important synergy between MIT researchers and clinicians from Harvard and associated local hospitals. Furthermore, the connections to MIT CRC and the Harvard Catalyst facilitate access to the resources at the Harvard Catalyst, such as the Harvard Catalyst pilot project funding, access to clinical studies, and collaborations with clinical investigators.

It is noteworthy that the desire for collaboration to pursue clinically relevant studies goes two ways. In addition to the interest of MIT researcher to collaborate with clinicians, clinicians are likewise seeking relationships with MIT scientists and engineers to bring new technologies to bear on important human health challenges. An advantage to the collaborative efforts of the IHSFC, the MIT CRC, and the Harvard Catalyst is that the IHSFC can help to build bridges in both directions – from clinician to engineers/scientists and vice versa. If you are interested in using this facility, please contact Catherine Ricciardi.

Finally, in addition to pilot project funding by way of the Harvard Catalyst, the CEHS itself has a special program that gives Pilot Projects for translational research that are in alignment with the environmental health mission.  Learn more about the CEHS Pilot Project Program here.