As the Clinical Research Support Center (CRSC) approaches its one year anniversary in September, it remains committed to identifying the appropriate experts and functional groups to support researchers and study teams as they navigate and advance projects through the clinical research process. The CRSC also continues to focus on reducing study start-up times and removing barriers.
The CRSC provides expertise to the entire University of Minnesota clinical research community — especially junior investigators or investigators new to the university — through collaborative partnerships with the Office of the Vice President for Research; the Clinical and Translational Science Institute; Fairview Health Services; and University of Minnesota Physicians.
Prior to the CRSC, individuals assisting researchers were located in different offices throughout the University. Since the opening of the CRSC, it has offered staff a unique opportunity to work in the same location with experts they otherwise may never have met, and learn about processes they otherwise may not have known.
“The design of the CRSC has allowed staff to each share their knowledge of different aspects of the clinical research process, creating a culture of learning that has been easily embraced,” said Dr. Daniel Weisdorf, CTSI Deputy Director and CTSI’s Clinical and Translational Research Services (CTRS) Core Director. “This exchange of knowledge has in turn provided staff members with the confidence to connect visitors with a colleague who is best suited to assist them.”
The option to arrange and participate in group meetings is another benefit that CRSC staff says has been especially helpful for experts/functional groups and researchers to fully understand the project, its capabilities, and to have overall, better information to move forward with their component of the study.
CRSC celebrates its achievements
The CRSC has celebrated many successes since opening its doors. By May, there were a total of 42 studies that went through the Feasibility Review, with more scheduled. The Feasibility Review is an optional, free of charge, early step researchers can take advantage of at the CRSC and focuses on preparing a study for approval and successful recruitment.
Additionally, more than 450 inquiries* have been made by researchers, many of which have included pulling a team of experts together with a broader range of backgrounds to consult and provide each other with optimal support. These inquiries have come to the CRSC via phone, email, online scheduling, and walk-in visits.
To date, the CRSC has had more than 270 visitors — many of whom have visited on multiple occasions — to specifically seek out guidance from one of the clinical research experts in the support center. Having experts/functional groups all in one location has been extremely helpful to CRSC’s visitors, as in the past they would have had to seek out the resources individually, going to different locations and groups across the University's Twin Cities campus for answers to their questions.
CRSC website launch connects researchers to resources, tools
Another notable moment this past year for the CRSC was the launch of a new website in February. The site features information for principal investigators to get a jumpstart on their research and shares how the CRSC can help move a study along quicker while providing useful resources.
The About Us webpage provides frequently asked questions, which helps a researcher to understand the CRSC’s positioning and answers questions they might have regarding cost or when CRSC staff are available to help.
The CRSC website also outlines, in an easy search function, numerous services available to the researcher from CTSI, including project planning guidance, clinical trial accounting, IRB submission preparation, and many more. Researchers can filter by activity or perform a keyword search to connect them to the correct service.
For firsthand accounts of how the CRSC can be useful, there are several videos of investigators and clinical research professionals from across the University that detail how they have found success using CRSC’s services.
What the next year looks like, and beyond
As the CRSC moves into its second year, its focus will remain on bringing in and helping more investigators and study teams, which will allow the center to continue to learn how it can best meet their needs. It will also be working on several process improvement initiatives to help the research community start clinical research studies quicker.
To learn more about when and how to connect with the CRSC, check out their website to find days and hours that fit best for you.
* The data is only for inquiries that are coming directly to the CRSC and does not include the functional groups that support study teams outside of the CRSC.