Translating the latest advances in research into better health care for the average patient is challenging: the explosive growth of biological knowledge and technology currently moves very slowly, if at all, into the health care practitioner’s office and into the community. The new multidisciplinary clinical research career development program at the UW, recently funded with a $13 million grant over five years from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aims to help resolve this problem by training clinical research scholars. The program is a collaborative effort of all the UW health sciences schools.
“Our aims are to train investigators who have depth in a specific research area, but also breadth of knowledge about the full spectrum of clinical investigation, and provide them with the knowledge and practical skills for conducting integrative clinical research,” said Dr. Richard Deyo, professor of medicine and health services and project director. “It’s important, too, that we create an environment that infuses them with the excitement of clinical research, while nurturing their early career development.”
The program will involve faculty from the UW Schools of Medicine, Public Health and Community Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Dentistry and Social Work, as well as from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and Group Health Cooperative’s Center for Health Studies. Each year, approximately seven doctoral level scholars will be recruited, drawing from all health professions. Clinical research scholar candidates may be people who are already working on postdoctoral research or at the junior faculty level in their careers.
“The intent is that the scholars will be able to stay in the program for two years, but they could stay for as long as five years,” Deyo said. “The first year, they will learn the curriculum that we feel is important for most people doing research with human subjects. The scholars will be learning about research design, biostatistics and the ethics of clinical research.”
During the second year, and continuing for as long as four more years, the scholars will work on mentored research. The program will provide some funding for the scholars’ research projects. Additionally, the grant will fund a training program for research coordinators who will provide support to the scholars and also help train additional coordinators working with researchers throughout the system.
The grant is part of an NIH-wide initiative to accelerate and strengthen the clinical research process. Six other institutions are also receiving awards: Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Clinic Foundation; Johns Hopkins University; Mayo Clinic; University of California, San Francisco; University of Pittsburgh; and University of Wisconsin.