About CCTS

The UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) brings together clinicians, researchers, and communities to accelerate the translation of basic science discoveries to tangible improvements in health. With the support for a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, we foster innovative team science across multiple campuses and states. We provide infrastructure, funding, and research support services, and train the upcoming generation of clinical and translational researchers.

Within UK’s role as Kentucky's flagship, land grant university, the CCTS focuses on addressing chronic health disparities in rural and underserved populations throughout the Commonwealth and the Central Appalachian region. We work closely with institutional and community partners to collaboratively identify local challenges and opportunities to improve wellbeing. As the directing member of the Appalachian Translational Research Network, we also lead a regional research platform that leverages the expertise, resources, and experiences of multiple academic and medical centers.

Our Mission
  • Lead institutional innovation in the delivery of efficient, effective clinical and translational research
  • Develop a diverse workforce across multiple disciplines that advances translational research and excels in team science
  • Address the unique health needs of Central Appalachia by engaging with regional, rural and community-?based partners.
  • Catalyze innovative research, including novel drug development and informatics methodologies, with particular focus on bringing innovation to special populations and across the lifespan.
  • Create an efficient clinical trials network that extends into our partner health care systems and involves participants throughout a four state region of rural Central Appalachia.

Welcome to the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) at the University of Kentucky (UK). The CCTS is proud to lead the UK’s efforts to create an integrated home for clinical and translational research, and promote progress at every phase of the translational continuum. The overarching goals of the CCTS are to champion innovation in the full spectrum of clinical and translational research while educating the translational workforce of the future and engaging our communities in translational science. We focus specifically on research that leads to improved health and wellbeing in Central Appalachia.

The CCTS is supported in part by a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science at the National Institutes of Health.

Here at UK, we provide infrastructure, pilot funding, and core services essential for the advancement of clinical and translational science. We also provide educational programs and career development programs. The CCTS directly involves more than 250 individuals from 15 UK colleges and centers. Although the CCTS is not disease focused, we interact with and strongly support the efforts of disease-specific centers on campus, including the Markey Cancer Center, Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, Gill Heart Institute, Saha Cardiovascular Center,

We also lead the Appalachian Translational Research Network, a regional research platform including The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Ohio University, Marshall University, West Virginia University, East Tennessee State University, and community members and health care providers throughout the region.

Opportunities and resources abound, whether you are an investigator at UK, a community partner, a research participant, or a research trainee in the early stages of your career development. Please, enjoy your virtual visit, and we hope that you avail yourself of these extraordinary opportunities and resources in the near future. Let us know how we can help you. You can reach us at (859 323-2615) or ccts@uky.edu.

Philip A. Kern, M.D.
Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology
Director, Center for Clinical and Translational Science
Associate Provost Clinical and Translational Science

Philip Kern Image

Philip A. Kern, MD

Philip A. Kern, MD, has served as the director of the CCTS since 2009, and also serves as UK’s associate provost for clinical and translational science. He also served as the inaugural director of the Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Center in the UK College of Medicine from 2009-2015, with the task of building a comprehensive research, clinical, and outreach program intended to improve diabetes research and care in Kentucky. He studies adipocyte and muscle biology and metabolism, is engaged in basic and clinical research related to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes and has been funded by the NIH to study metabolic disease for 30 years.

Gabe Harris Image

Gabe Harris
Executive Director

Gabe Harris became the executive director of the CCTS in January 2017. In this role, he leads the implementation of strategic efforts in the integrated approach to clinical and translational research. He also serve as the CCTS chief of staff, leading special projects and providing support to director Dr. Philip A. Kern and associate directors. Harris has extensive expertise in research and higher education administration, including contract negotiations, strategic planning, finance and budgeting, research and government compliance and service operations. He previously served the associate director for financial management at the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine, as well the nephrology’s division administrator and as a contract officer for the Office of Research Administration. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Indiana University and certificates in research administration and pre-award research administration from the Research Administrators Certification Council.

Susan Smyth Image

Susan Smyth, MD, PhD
Senior Associate Director

Susan Smyth, MD, PhD, serves as an associate director of the CCTS and oversees the TL1 training program. She also serves as medical director of the UK Gill Heart Institute and director of the MD/PhD program. As a physician scientist, she combines clinical practice in cardiology with funded research focused on the interplay between inflammation and thrombosis in the development and progression of cardiovascular disease, with a particular emphasis on ischemic vascular disease. She also participated as PI of multisite clinical trials and as director of a core PD laboratory.

Frederick de Beer Image

Frederick C. de Beer, MD
Senior Associate Director

Frederick C. de Beer, MD, joined the CCTS as a Senior Associate Director in April 2017. He brings extensive expertise and experience, having formerly served as the dean of the UK College of Medicine, chief of the division of endocrinology and molecular medicine, and chief of medicine at the VA Medical Center in Lexington. Dr. de Beer has authored or co-authored 129 peer-reviewed publications as well as a number of book chapters and editorials. He maintains an active research laboratory and has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 20 years. De Beer received his medical degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. His postgraduate education was at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London. Prior to coming to the United States in 1989, he served as professor of medicine at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Tom Kelly Image

Tom Kelly, PhD
Associate Director

Tom Kelly, PhD, has been a member of the CCTS leadership team since 2006 and currently serves as an associate director, leading the Training, Education, and Mentoring (TEAM) core. He oversaw the development of graduate certificate, masters and PhD training programs in clinical and translational science, and manages our TL1 and KL2 career development awards, professional student mentored research program, mentor training program, and institutional career development and workforce development programs. He also serves as the associate dean for research in the College of Nursing and the vice-chair of the department of behavioral science in the College of Medicine.

Jeff Talbert Image

Jeff Talbert, PhD
Associate Director

Jeff Talbert, PhD, serves as an associate director for the CCTS, co-director of the CCTS biomedical informatics core, and director of the Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy in the UK College of Pharmacy. He leads the Application Operations Team for biomedical informatics, which builds infrastructure and data assets to support translational investigators. He also oversees the outcomes project for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, including the development of the Kentucky Health Data Trust, a collection of administrative and clinical data for all citizens in Kentucky used to support population health improvement health outcomes.

GQ Zhang Image

GQ Zhang, PhD
Associate Director


Jane Lowe Image

Jane S. Lowe, PhD
Administrative Director 'Emeritus'

Jane S. Lowe, PhD, has served as the administrative director of the CCTS since 2007 and UK's assistant provost for clinical and translational science since 2008. She has 25 years of academic administration experience. As assistant dean for research in UK's college of medicine, she helped develop and implement the integrated biomedical sciences (IBS) curriculum now utilized by all seven doctoral programs in the UK college of medicine and served as the IBS director from 2000-2008. In 2004 she served as a member the K30 Advisory Board and as coordinator of the 2004 clinical research review that led to the creation of the CCTS.