As reported by The Hartford Courant, September 28, 2009.

Supporters Say UConn-Hartford Hospital Partnership Would Elevate Clinical Research

By Chris DeFrancesco

Hartford Hospital's parent company would invest $10 million a year in clinical research at the University of Connecticut Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine under the proposed partnership between Hartford Healthcare and UConn.

UConn officials say the partnership would elevate the stature of the medical and dental schools and make the Hartford area a research hub that will help attract researchers and physicians, ultimately leading to greater advances in science and making the Hartford region a health care destination.

Under the proposed partnership plan, the state would fund the construction of a 250-bed replacement hospital on the UConn Health Center campus that would combine with Hartford Hospital to form a single clinical enterprise to be known as "University Hospital." With nearly 1,100 total beds on two campuses, Farmington and Hartford, the UConn Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine would go from having one of the smallest university hospitals in the country to one of the largest. Hartford Healthcare would operate the collective University Hospital system and assume its financial risk, while the state would share in its profits.

Dr. Henry Kranzler, professor of psychiatry at the UConn School of Medicine and a full-time clinical investigator who also serves as a research mentor, says the partnership would lead to the availability of cutting-edge treatments for more state residents because it would significantly increase access to patients by UConn researchers conducting clinical studies.

"That's a great benefit, because one major limitation in doing clinical research here is the relatively small patient base," Kranzler says. "And it makes us more competitive, not only for industry-sponsored studies, but for studies funded by the National Institutes of Health."

In October, the Health Center will submit its application for a major NIH grant known as the Clinical and Translational Science Award. The Health Center is applying with the full backing of a regional biomedical research consortium known as the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, or CICATS, for which Kranzler is serving as a co-principal investigator. CICATS is a partnership of hospitals, state agencies and community health care organizations with a dual mission of collaborating on research to improve health care and in training scientists. UConn formally launched CICATS Sept. 29.

"Research growth is vitally dependent upon increased collaborations among scientists, clinical investigators and clinicians who, every day, come up with new ideas to improve patient care," says Hartford Hospital Vice President of Research Laurine Bow.

The proposed partnership plan requires state government approval. It remains under consideration in the General Assembly.

UConn is also proposing a collaborative designed to strengthen the medical and dental schools' academic and research relationships with all the central Connecticut hospitals.