R&D Senior Director’s Corner

R&D Senior Director’s Corner

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Before I get going on the main topic of my update for the newsletter, I’d like to officially welcome all our Jefferson College of Health Sciences (JCHS) faculty and staff as partners of the Carilion Clinic Research and Development newsletter. This is our first attempt to combine research information and ideas that have been going out in two separate newsletters. It also continues the great progress we made combining our Research Day efforts this year. That partnership which also included the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine led to one of our most successful Research Days to-date from a record number of over 300 participants to a series of high-quality scientific presentations from our students, residents, pharmacists, physicians, and nurses! Details about Research Day can be found in the summary article in this newsletter.

That is a great segue into the theme of today’s message… our ongoing efforts to support high-quality research to promote excellence in the quality of care provided to our patients.

Currently, strong research programs exist across a number of Carilion Clinic departments. In addition to a small, but dedicated group of physicians, nurses, and other providers engaged in research, contributions to the research endeavor are also made by residents, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students, and students in professional programs at JCHS. Carilion Clinic is also involved as a subcontractor on a number of federal grants and contracts and enjoys a developing partnership with researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and School of Medicine. Finally, Carilion physicians participate as site leads for a variety of industry sponsored clinical trials that engage new patients and provide our current patients with opportunities to receive new and innovative treatments.

While there are a lot of good things going on with Carilion Clinic Research, much of our research infrastructure has developed organically to address needs within the system. For example, (1) the Carilion Clinic Security Governance Committee was developed (originally) to monitor research access to protected health information; (2) the Carilion Clinic Research and Development approval process was developed to ensure department chairs were aware of the research projects and the time allocated by physician investigators; and (3) the MyTSC research request process was developed to ensure that investigators were obtaining the appropriate approvals to obtain data and conduct specific analyses. These groups and processes, while unquestionably valuable, often result in lengthy delays for researchers within the system—often before and after IRB review.

To address the sometimes protracted review time and investigator frustration with unanticipated delays, we have been working on the research review process to provide timely reviews of research projects in the areas of scientific quality, feasibility of data acquisition and analyses, feasibility of research time and personnel requests, and procedures for accessing protected health information.

Our goal is to develop a ‘one-stop-shop’ for research review and approvals prior to having a study reviewed by the IRB. That ‘shop’ would identify issues with analytic feasibility (i.e., do the data exist and can they feasibility be acquired), human resource needs, protection of personal health information, and scientific quality at the beginning of the process—and provide actionable feedback for projects that need attention.

We are still early in this process and are looking for feedback on our ideas and ideas of your own that can help us improve the quality of our work and efficiency of our research enterprise.

Another endeavor we are undertaking is the revamping of our internal and external websites.  Our goal is to make it informative, easy to navigate, and more user-friendly by the end of the fiscal year (September 2015).  We welcome any comments/suggestions you may have to help us enhance the Research & Development website.  If you have comments/suggestions regarding the websites, please send them to research@carilionclinic.org.

Feel free to reach out to me with your ideas and to volunteer to help out!



Paul Estabrooks, PhD

Senior Director for Research, Carilion Clinic
Professor of Human Nutrition, Foods, & Exercise, Virginia Tech
Professor of Family Medicine, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine