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Incoming MCG president laments grant efforts

Leader laments inability to gain federal grants

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Medical College of Georgia doesn't have what it takes yet to compete for certain kinds of cutting-edge federal grants, incoming MCG President Ricardo Azziz said.

Dr. Ricardo Azziz  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Dr. Ricardo Azziz

Speaking this week at the University System of Georgia Board of Regents meeting, Azziz said he was surprised at the lack of infrastructure to compete for Clinical and Translational Science Awards from the National Institutes of Health.

"I would have expected a medical center and a health sciences university of the caliber of MCG to have a competitive infrastructure, absolutely," he said.

The NIH has a program to create up to 60 translational consortiums across the country, where the emphasis will be on converting basic research discoveries into treatments. MCG was awarded a $220,000 planning grant in 2006 to compete for one of the new grants, "and that in and of itself was a big coup for us because we were competing against the top-tier folks to get one of those," said Dr. Frank A. Treiber, vice president for research development at MCG.

The school then partnered with Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina to try to form a regional consortium to land one of the grants but the application was turned down. It was the first multi-institution, multistate application and the reviewers were "impressed" with the plans to attack health disparities and diseases prevalent in the South, such as diabetes and stroke, Treiber said.

It was not seen, however, as feasible, he said.

While working across those institutional and state lines, "Can you really do it?" Treiber asked.

MCG has been hurt in part by its lack of a general clinical research center to support clinical research, he said.

In a kind of Catch-22, the NIH has now made grants for those centers part of the translational grant program, so the grant MCG needs to get a translational grant is part of the grant it can't get without it, Treiber said.

"We're not competitive for it at all," Azziz said. "We're so not competitive that we actually partnered with MUSC. They allowed us to partner with them once. They failed to get the application. They threw us off the application -- literally, and they went ahead and got their own funding on their own."

MUSC, in collaboration with other schools and medical institutions in South Carolina, was awarded one of the translational grants last year, which will be nearly $19.9 million over the next five years.

"That is how, in many ways, less relevant we have become to the clinical, translational science (program)," Azziz said. "So we need to change."

That will be one of the objectives Azziz has when he takes over on July 1.

"To build translational research at MCG we will need to have facilities that will support translational research," Azziz said earlier this week in an interview with The Augusta Chronicle. "For example, a clinical research building is one way. The other is to engage community partners in taking the research that is being done on campus to the community to understand how truly our discoveries and our improvements are affecting health in the real world."

And despite the lack of success with the previous attempt, the school should continue to try to partner with other institutions on collaborative research, Azziz said.

MCG has been trying to counter the lack of an NIH translational grant by doing some of it on its own, Treiber said. MCG School of Medicine Dean D. Douglas Miller has developed a number of Discovery Institutes to pair basic researchers with clinicians in research areas on chronic diseases plaguing the South in order to foster more translational research, Treiber said.

"We're now starting to see a return on investment in that" in its second year, he said. The school hopes it will be able to apply again for a translational NIH grant in the fall, Treiber said.

Coming Sunday

Incoming President Ricardo Azziz talks about the changing direction of the Medical College of Georgia, its clinical system and its research, along with his own work studying the impact of fat on the body.

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Riverman1
90653
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Riverman1 05/13/10 - 04:09 am
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It appears all those

It appears all those administrators who got the big raises have not done very well in this area. The picture of how bad MCG was under Rahn and inefficiently run is just beginning to emerge.

Pondperson1
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Pondperson1 05/13/10 - 05:02 am
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Dr. Azziz, we are so happy in

Dr. Azziz, we are so happy in Augusta that you are coming to this fine city to fix all that's wrong. Your depth and breadth of experience leading large academic medical centers and managing thousands of people and budgets of billions of dollars uniquely prepares you for this challenge. Please be aware there is a mistake on NIH's Website. It does not show a CTSA for Cedars-Sinai. It says that California has four such awards (Scripps, Stanford, UCSF, UC Davis). Thought that you should know.
http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/clinical_research_resources/clinical_and_transla...

ClaraBell
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ClaraBell 05/13/10 - 05:29 am
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Did Corwin write about what

Did Corwin write about what Dr. Azziz led in California? (How big was his shop? P&L responsibility? Research dollars? Number of people?) It must be HUGE, and he must have been given a HUMONGOUS package to prepare him to make this happen. Corwin, why don't you FOIA his package info? And while you're at it, please write about his track record. This could be great for Georgia. LOOK OUT EMORY!

Esctab
1111
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Esctab 05/13/10 - 07:15 am
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Well darn. Adding all those

Well darn. Adding all those administrators and increasing their pay didn't grow research at M$C$G$ afterall. What a surprise. Three cheers for Goldfinger who managed to grow his personal wallet during a difficult economy anyway.

Kapa18
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Kapa18 05/13/10 - 07:42 am
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I am waiting to see the

I am waiting to see the outcome, although Dr. Azziz may have plans (and even that remains to be seen) to streamline and make the college more efficeint, I recognize he is working against a history of waste and abuse. They are (MCG Admin) are into bricks not advancement. They see a new building as a accomplishment, not necessarily services or research. We have and continue to spend money like it grows on trees, while all the time cutting benefits for patients and cutting pay for 85% of the employees. He would have to virtual fire or downsize 70% of the Administration to make us MCG a top rated health sciences factility, and although he might want to, I don't see that happening. The Board of Regents and the Govenor would have to back him and we know the way things are, that is not going to happen.

jwsaxon
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jwsaxon 05/13/10 - 07:47 am
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I still say this dude is Drew

I still say this dude is Drew Carey.

PedsMD
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PedsMD 05/13/10 - 08:28 am
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Kudos to the MCG

Kudos to the MCG administrative staff once again for the exhorbitant raises they all enjoyed, while at the same time threatening to cut programs for its students which would cost them thousands of dollars in student loans and make their lives take drastic turns. Hopefully the Provost sleeps well at night considering he was one of the ones enjoying a raise, and also the one who apologized to the faces of the students and "urged them to write their congressmen to save their program."
If there is any improvement in this broken system of "what have you done for me lately" with the new president, I will be shocked. I likewise, am skeptical as to what sort of glitzy package this guy had to have been offered in order to come to Augusta.

CultureShock
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CultureShock 05/13/10 - 08:59 am
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Did any of the posters above

Did any of the posters above read beyond the headline - which is very misleading (and the one in the print edition even more so). What Dr. Azziz says is that MCG has tried to get grants, but could not successfully compete because they do not have the necessary infrastructure/facilities to support the work once grants are received. The granting agencies are going to favor the institutions that have the infrastructure in place. Getting that infrastructure in place requires an investment in both quality people and facilities. That requires a vision and leadership who will support and champion that vision (as well as budgetary support at the state level). This is why MCG has been bringing in new blood and has to pay competitively to get the right type of people to move the school forward. It is really a shame that the community can't see beyond the negative light that the Chroncle likes to shine on MCG.

Riverman1
90653
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Riverman1 05/13/10 - 09:16 am
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For the past five years

For the past five years administrators have been given huge raises and their numbers increased tremendously. Yet, the research grants have not come. This has been going on since 2005. Don't you think it's time to reevaluate how things are done?

MUSC in Charleston, apparently does well. Let's compare the number of administrators they have and their salaries with those at MCG. It's obvious something is not right at MCG by Dr. Azizz's statement.

Kenya_Beard
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Kenya_Beard 05/13/10 - 09:24 am
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Culture the problem is they

Culture the problem is they are not bringing in new blood. All the admin people listed in last week's article have been there for years. They are just sitting back collecting salaries they DON'T deserve and cutting underhanded deals. What's funny is that some of the employees mentioned in last week's article were embarrassed their increases got published. They figured (possibly rightfully so) that the worker Bees didn't have enough intelligence to get that info, so cudos to the AC for bringing this to light. However, the employees there know more than they are given credit for such as Kapa.

Esctab
1111
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Esctab 05/13/10 - 10:32 am
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To CultureShock: Perhaps you

To CultureShock:
Perhaps you don't understand the difference between adding administrators and attracting/keeping faculty who actually conduct the research, instruct the students, and provide the service?

I wonder how many current faculty believe the current administrators are their "champion."

JustinCase
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JustinCase 05/13/10 - 02:09 pm
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CultureShock, Don't bother,

CultureShock, Don't bother, they don't "get it". They are like sheep or lemmings. They only know what the AC and Riverman1 tells them. They don't understand the concepts of which you speak and still, as evidenced by the 'Who' hearer's statement, don't grasp the fact that it does take money to make money, hire faculty, conduct business within the laws and rules of the State, blance budgets, plan expansion, hire contractors, construct buildings, manage inventory, and so on and so on. Maybe it isn't that they don't understand, but that they think the faculty will do all those fun tasks as well?

Anyway, good points but wasted effort.

3doghouse
9
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3doghouse 05/13/10 - 02:11 pm
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Riverman, "For the past five

Riverman,

"For the past five years administrators have been given huge raises and their numbers increased tremendously. Yet, the research grants have not come. This has been going on since 2005."

The grants have been coming: http://www.mcg.edu/iris/research/support.html

Esctab
1111
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Esctab 05/13/10 - 03:48 pm
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JustinCase: You are making

JustinCase:
You are making quite a few assumptions about what faculty do or do not understand. And, you are asserting that faculty have no responsibility for the list responsibilities you mention. Faculty without administrative titles (or the pay) are directly involved in those tasks as well. The administrators with the titles (and the pay) rely on the productivity of the faculty (and staff) for the achievements the top tier administrators then enjoy as salary increases. One explenation offered by administrators at MCG to justify their pay increases was their increase in responsibility. But when the workload and responsibilities of faculty are increased, title expansion and salary increases don't come along with it as it does for a select group at MCG.

Riverman1
90653
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Riverman1 05/13/10 - 04:28 pm
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3doghouse, glad to see you

3doghouse, glad to see you created an account just to comment on these issues. On the other hand, I comment on EVERYTHING I don't think passes the smell test.

Your link lists extramural grants and contract support. It in no way negates what Dr. Azizz says. He described the condition with NIH grants and MCG. Kind of sneaky what you attempted to portray here wouldn't you say?

Riverman1
90653
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Riverman1 05/13/10 - 04:15 pm
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"Dr. Azziz, we are so happy

"Dr. Azziz, we are so happy in Augusta that you are coming to this fine city to fix all that's wrong. Your depth and breadth of experience leading large academic medical centers and managing thousands of people and budgets of billions of dollars uniquely prepares you for this challenge. Please be aware there is a mistake on NIH's Website. It does not show a CTSA for Cedars-Sinai. It says that California has four such awards (Scripps, Stanford, UCSF, UC Davis). Thought that you should know.
http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/clinical_research_resources/clinical_and_transla"

Where does Dr. Azizz say he obtained NIH grants from his current clinical operation? Lots of anxiety popping up here.

Kapa18
0
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Kapa18 05/13/10 - 06:45 pm
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CultureShock, 85% of the

CultureShock, 85% of the people on that list have been at MCG 15+ years, that's not "new blood". Hecks on the person with one of the highest salaries +555,000 has a PhD. He couldn't see patients if he wanted to (Goldstein). I like the comment about him begging people to write their congressman to stop the deletion of certain programs (which I think some of them might should have been deleted because they are either repetitious or outdated) all the time he knew he had 92% pay raise, how deceptive can you get?

Esctab
1111
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Esctab 05/14/10 - 11:10 am
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Pondperson, I too want to

Pondperson,
I too want to extend a welcome to Azziz; the community is in dire need of his help and leadership. He has an established record of helping as illustrated by various professional awards and recognization for his career in ob/gyn. Hopefully, he will have equal zeal and passion for helping MCG's academic programs/students along with his proposed agenda for research.

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