The National Institutes of Health has awarded $20 million in research funding to Portland’s Maine Medical Center and its partners, the University of Southern Maine and the University of Vermont.

The five-year grant will be used to establish the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network, “a consortium dedicated to enhancing collaborative biomedical research activities for the improvement of human health,” Maine Medical Center said in a statement. The consortium will join nine other NIH-supported regional networks across the country.

The funding will help researchers develop and implement innovative medical treatments for chronic diseases prevalent in the region, including cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and substance abuse, it said. Research activities will also focus on defining optimal methods of prevention and health care delivery in rural environments, where roughly 60 percent of Maine’s population resides.

Another key purpose of the network is training the next generation of biomedical scientists, physicians and nurses in research methodology to attract additional research support to the region, it said, adding, “Such initiatives are critical in meeting the health care needs of the region’s aging population in an era when ground-breaking medical treatments are rapidly being developed.”

Collaborations with researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth will serve to extend the capabilities of the network and its reach across the region, according to Maine Medical Center.

Clifford Rosen, M.D., director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Maine Medical Center Research Institute, and Gary Stein, director of the University of Vermont Cancer Center and chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, will co-lead the program, it said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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