Med school to examine path of knowledge from bench to bedside

November 29, 2000

CLEVELAND -- Medical researchers often speak of moving their discoveries from the "bench to the bedside," meaning they wish to see their laboratory findings developed into new treatments and therapies to benefit patients. Doing so takes years of research to ensure the effectiveness and safety of any new treatment or therapy.

Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine has received a $1 million grant ($200,000 per year over five years) from the National Institutes of Health to train the next generation of clinical scientists to be well-grounded in the methods necessary to conduct clinical research trials. The grant will support CWRU's new Clinical Research Scholars Program.

The need for translational research is great, according to E.R. McFadden Jr., because it is the major method of improving quality of patient care. Translational research, which refers to the bench-to-bedside movement, is how new drugs, new medical devices, and new medical procedures are tested and developed.

McFadden is the grant's principal investigator, a clinical researcher, and a professor of pulmonary/critical care medicine at CWRU and University Hospitals of Cleveland.

"To move basic observations - from physiology, molecular biology, and genetics, for example - into the clinical sphere, we have to train people to see the observations for what they are in terms of their importance and apply those findings to clinical medicine in a rigorous fashion," said McFadden. "To do this, physician-researchers need a set of tools that no one is teaching them.

"The grant is designed to provide instruction in the disciplines required by the modern investigator to appropriately perform clinical research. Specifically, it is to teach physicians how to use disciplines such as biostatistics and clinical epidemiology, and to educate physicians on how to design, interpret and analyze studies," he added. The new CWRU program also will teach researchers the how-to's of writing a grant, interpreting scientific literature, writing research papers, and presenting findings at national meetings.

Initially, the program annually will train an elite group of five young investigators. They will be physicians who have completed training in a specialty and are continuing training in a subspecialty. During the two-year program, they will spend about one-fourth of their time receiving classroom instruction, and the balance of their time conducting clinical research under the guidance of an established investigator. In the future, McFadden said the University will offer a master's of science degree to those completing the program. Faculty involved with the program are from CWRU's schools of medicine, nursing, and dentistry.

The NIH grant is known as a Clinical Research Curriculum Award (K30). It is an award that addresses, in part, the NIH's initiative to improve the quality of training in clinical research. The NIH recognizes that highly trained clinical researchers are needed to capitalize on the profound developments and discoveries in fundamental science and to translate them to clinical settings.

Case Western Reserve University

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