CTSI Success Stories: Research Help, other CTSI resources, makes life easier for study coordinators

Elizabeth Werner, senior health project coordinator, and Ann Marie Scorsone, senior human subject research coordinator, have utilized CTSI resources for several of their research studies with the Division of Neonatology. They recently spoke to CTSI Stories about their experiences.


Elizabeth Werner, left, and Ann Marie Scorsone, right.

Thanks for taking the time to chat! Tell us a little bit about your work and how you came to use the resources within the CTSI.

Werner: We’re research coordinators in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and I’m currently doing a test with infants where we put stretchy bands around their chest and abdomen and measure whether their breathing is synchronous or asynchronous, which can have health implications. However, the band itself is not FDA approved, so our study is a device trial because the FDA wants to ensure that the babies are safe and that they won’t be harmed by this.

I’ve personally used the Research Help Desk for their clinicaltrials.gov support, because that site can be really hard to navigate. Carrie Dykes — and before her, Cindy Doane — have both come over and helped me through the system and have identified the problems that I’d been having.

Scorsone: I’m part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and within that is the neonatal research network. So we currently have about 10 studies right now that we’re doing in the NICU as part of that network.

One of those studies is something we’ve been engaged in for 15 or more years: Dr. Dale Phelps’s study on retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which is one of the leading causes of early childhood blindness or long term eye dysfunction. We’re in a Phase III FDA trial with that right now and it includes a long term follow up, so we had Ann Dozier come speak with us about research subject retention. And Dr. Dozier really helped us in Rochester come up with ideas on how to help approach the families and talk about the long term follow up right in the beginning.  We get a great follow-up rate at their 2-year visits – it’s over 90 percent – and she’s been a big help with that.

What types of suggestions did she make?

Scorsone: She talked about really understanding what gets in the way in terms of participation, and why you tend to lose people as a trial goes on. We’ve really tried to maintain contact with our families so they feel like they’re not just part of a research project, but actually a part of a family here.

Werner: We talk to people about how this is a research institute, and how things that are helping your baby today started with studies that other families have participated in, in the past. That attitude, I think, has helped shape our whole division. We’ve really worked hard over the past five years to make both the patients and the staff feel like part of a research community. One thing we have done to help this is to set up a NICU research tent at the Stroll for Strong Kids to present study information there.

Scorsone: And we also have high visibility in the NICU itself. We make sure the research team is down there, and we’re talking to families all the time – not just showing up when we need a blood draw. The idea is these people aren’t just subjects. We’re creating ties, which is what Ann had talked to us about – shaping the culture. So we present research to the staff down there, and we’ve identified nurse champions that are interested in research and want to help us. And they’ve really embraced it, because I think they can see the difference.

What other programs have you used through the CTSI?

Scorsone: I’ve been to Adam Tatro’s eRecord training, and he very graciously asked me to be part of his eRecord leadership group, so I gave a couple presentations as well. He’s extraordinary. We’ve actually had him come here and give our coordinators a private workshop because we do so much data extraction for all of our studies.

Werner: We’re working with Adam on i2b2 as well, and we’ve leaned on the CTSI for REDCap support. I have Amanda Davin on my speed dial. I also like many of the seminars that are run over there – I’ve learned a lot from those.

Have you used the Research Request Dashboard?

Scorsone: Yes. Dr. Patricia Chess was thinking about doing a pilot study of a device. There was a company potentially interested in potentially buying the patent. So that involved some techie licensing stuff that goes way beyond my coordinator role. But through the dashboard, I was just able to write “Hey, I have an investigator who wants to do this,” and they connected me with Joan Adamo.

So that was really neat, they’re able to connect you with all these resources in-house with the click of a button, and I didn’t have to struggle to figure out those protocols myself.

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