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Working tirelessly behind the scenes of breakthrough clinical research at the University of Miami are teams of professionals who play a vital role in advancing quality research that improves the lives of patients. These support staffers include research nurses, coordinators and others of varying backgrounds and expertise who interact with study participants, gather data and navigate regulatory processes.

Recognizing this workforce as a critical component to clinical investigations at UM, the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has created the Network of Clinical Research Professionals (NCRP), an organization dedicated to developing education, training, career development, and networking opportunities for research support staff. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for September 17.

“As an institution, we need to acknowledge the critical efforts of the people who do research work—the clinical coordinators, research nurses, regulatory staff, data managers, and others who make research possible,” said John Bixby, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Research and executive committee member of the Miami CTSI. “NCRP seminars are designed to allow those closest to the research process to articulate challenges and suggest solutions—to build a foundation for clinical research based on best practices across the University.”

One of the major goals of the Miami CTSI, which received a $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health last year, is to promote excellence in clinical research training. “We want to have a strong workforce that is well trained and prepared to do high-quality research and who feel like they are valued,” said JoNell Potter, Ph.D., co-director of ¡Alianza! Miami Center for Research Participation and Partnership, the Miami CTSI program working on developing training modules, mentoring opportunities and a career ladder for coordinators and research support staff.

With support from the Miami CTSI, the NCRP held its first seminar in May, when more than 100 people came out and provided valuable feedback on the needs of clinical research staff. A group survey of these key staffers found that their job titles varied widely, from administrative assistant to research associate, and that many were self-taught or learned their skills on the job.

“What they told us over and over again was that they wanted opportunities to learn more skills and grow professionally,” said Joanne Krasnoff, Ph.D., senior manager of research support for ¡Alianza!, who administered the survey. “We are absolutely dedicated to being responsive to their needs and showing it through this group.”

Deborah Goodman, senior manager of research support at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, said she joined the NCRP because it offered a unique opportunity to understand how clinical research is done across the University. “It’s a great way to stay in touch on what’s happening within the University, rather than hearing things through the grapevine,” Goodman said.

Before joining the NCRP, Barbara Lutz, RN, a research assistant with the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, said she didn’t realize there were so many other research professionals with the same questions and concerns that she had.

The NCRP holds bi-monthly seminars and will meet next on Tuesday, September 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Lois Pope LIFE Center Auditorium, room 705, to discuss standard operating procedures in clinical research. Lunch will be served. To RSVP or get on the NCRP mailing list for future seminars, email Joanne Krasnoff at JKrasnoff@med.miami.edu.

To view presentations and other information from past NCRP meetings, visit www.MiamiCTSI.org.

 

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