Medical research funding aims for local, worldwide results

Carle and the University of Illinois plan to announce this spring which groups will receive up to $50,000 through the Carle Illinois Seed Funding Program. The joint effort to encourage innovation represents yet another connection key to the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, set to start welcoming students who will be both physicians and engineers in 2018.

“Programs like this provide our physicians opportunities to make even more of a difference for our patients,” said Surgical Services medical director Blair Rowitz, MD. “We are asking, ‘How can we improve healthcare? How can we improve the lives of our patients?

“Research offers opportunities to begin making a difference for patients in our community. It could then affect patients all over the world.”

The challenge in research, like in many areas, is taking the first step, Dr. Rowitz said.

Enter Carle Vice President of Research Jennifer Eardley, PhD, who has been bridging university and Carle research programs for more than 10 years. She knows a large step forward came with a Research Affiliation Agreement between the institutions in October 2015.

"It’s exciting to build stronger ties and enhance capabilities for research, but we also had to align that with what's needed to get ideas off the ground,” she said. “It takes a little bit of money, students to support the work, supplies, equipment and people in the room coming together to develop solutions."

Put into play, a great idea can produce great results.

Ideas like embedded research coordinators make finding research time easier for busy practicing physicians.

“This is already established within Carle Cancer Center. We feel like it could also be effective within Digestive Health, the Neuroscience Institute, and the Heart and Vascular Institute," Eardley said. “This will help grow the infrastructure and provide a clearer path for physicians.”