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UPMC-Pitt group chases federal dollars

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

University of Pittsburgh and UPMC officials hope a collaboration forged last year serves as a blueprint for getting more of the $3.5 billion that will be available through 2019 as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

“These are very competitive grants, so the fact that we were able to come up with projects that received funding tells us it's worth continuing to work together,” said Donna Keyser, senior director of the UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care.

On Tuesday, members of the UPMC-Pitt Collaborative Work Group met with researchers and medical personnel from both institutions to pitch for projects to submit for funding through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which was established under the act.

Keyser said the collaboration was developed to help navigate changes in how medical research will be funded under the act.

“We do a ton of medical research in the United States, but there has been a problem with quickly translating the research in practice,” she said. “The new approach to funding research focuses on working in a real-world setting.”

The UPMC-Pitt collaboration helped win two grants in December.

A $1.7 million grant went to Dr. James Schuster, chief medical officer for UPMC's Community Care Behavioral Health. He will study mentally ill patients who receive care in rural community mental-health centers and are at risk for chronic medical conditions.

A second $1.7 million grant went to Dr. Michael Schneider, an assistant professor of physical therapy at Pitt's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. He will compare the effectiveness of non-surgical treatments for senior citizens who have pinched nerves in their lower backs.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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