Translational Research Alliance

Translational Research Alliance


Under the direction of Deborah Spector, PhD, the Translational Research Alliance was established as a coordinating center to develop new pathways for clinical investigators to collaborate with basic science researchers outside UCSD and to provide new tools for basic scientists across the San Diego region to translate discoveries into new treatments. To accomplish these goals, we have established partnerships with other universities, health care providers, biomedical research organizations, and nonprofit organizations (see below) to do the following:

  • Develop programs to foster collaboration and resource-sharing, and decrease barriers to interaction.
  • Facilitate technology transfer and development of novel therapies with our partner institutions and industry.

The Translational Research Alliance Internal Advisory Board, which includes representatives from our partner research institutions and industry meets twice a year to discuss Alliance goals and activities opportunities for resource sharing and training programs, funding available for pilot projects and interdisciplinary studies, and mechanisms to improve interactions with partner institutes and the biotech community. In addition, the Director meets individually with the Directors of BIOCOM and CONNECT to discuss Alliance goals and activities.

Partner Research Institutions

  • Salk Institute
  • Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute
  • La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
  • J Craig Venter Institute
  • San Diego State University (SDSU)

Nonprofit Alliances

  • Connect
  • Biocom
  • Von Leibig Center
  • California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2)
  • San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC)
  • Institute of Engineering in Medicine

Hospitals and Health Care Providers

  • Rady Children's Hospital
  • Palomar Pomerado Health
  • VA San Diego Healthcare

National Consortium

The ACTRI is partially funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health. The mission of the CTSA program is to accelerate discoveries toward better health. The CTSA is a highly competitive, 5-year grant that helps awardees translate research discoveries into commercially available drugs and devices for prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of human diseases and disorders. As the CTSA-funded institutes carry out this mission, we can expect to see an increase in research efficiency, an enhancement in the education of our trainees, and the breaking down of barriers, such as red tape and silo culture, that delay the progress of candidates to market. For more information, please click here.

International Partners

In recognition of growing opportunities to develop a global presence, the ACTRI has appointed Dr. Kumar Sharma as the first Director of the International Translational Research Alliance. Dr. Sharma is well known for his groundbreaking research in chronic kidney disease and diabetic nephropathy. He will be responsible for developing (with resources available at the ACTRI) multidisciplinary projects involving metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Current projects include collaborations in Finland, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, South America, and Japan. Key initial goals will be to develop a biorepository of blood and urine samples for the ACTRI, and to develop metabolomics as a platform for biomarker discovery.


The deans of the five UC medical campuses, in collaboration with the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), have launched an initiative to identify policy changes and areas of collaboration in order to accelerate biomedical research across the campuses. The initiative was named the “UC Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration, and Development” (UC BRAID) program.

Four initial areas of attention have been identified—Contracting, Informatics, IRB, and Metrics—and working groups have been developed to identify short- and long-term solutions to shared challenges in each of these areas. The groups work diligently to identify policy changes, new infrastructure, or processes that will reduce the barriers to clinical and translational research for each institution, individual researchers, and external partners.

UC BRAID is led by an executive committee of the CTSA Principal Investigators at the San Diego, Los Angeles, Irvine, San Francisco, and Davis campuses. The committee reports to UCOP, and is charged with: 

  • Coordinating activities across the biomedical campuses and at the Office of the President to support acceleration of biomedical research
  • Evaluating priorities for projects that meet UC BRAID program goals
  • Establishing task forces and subcommittees to address priorities
  • Making funding recommendations to the deans and UCOP

Click here for more information.

Dr. Spector

Deborah H. Spector, PhD
Director, Translational Research Alliance
Phone: (858) 822-4003