AHC unveils office for research

The new office will focus on recruiting and funding student clinical researchers.

Jamie VanGeest

The tan paint dries on the walls as the staff moves in to the Academic Health Center’s new Office of Clinical Research.

The office was created as a result of a recommendation in August by a health center-created task force that focuses on clinical research.

According to the National Institutes of Health, clinical research is patient-oriented research. Research may be conducted on human volunteers or on samples from humans.

Jasjit Singh Ahluwalia is the director of the Office of Clinical Research. His role will be to develop collaborative research and create new clinical research initiatives across the six Academic Health Center schools.

“We are going to create a training and education pipeline,” Ahluwalia said.

Rebbecca Moen, associate director of the Office of Clinical Research, said the office will try to pull people together and give them the resources they need to conduct clinical research.

Next year, the office will apply for a $65 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to be dispersed over several years, Moen said. The funding will focus on supporting new clinical researchers and recruiting students as future clinical researchers.

The new initiatives for the office include the Predoctoral Training Program in Clinical Research, which will fund students from any Academic Health Center school to pursue training in clinical research.

The students can train in clinical research in two ways: One is to leave a doctoral program for one year to work toward a master’s degree in clinical research through the School of Public Health.

Students can also pursue training in clinical research through a summer fellowship by working eight to 10 hours a week. During the fellowship, students work with clinical researchers in different medical fields.

The Office of Clinical Research will host the Distinguished Visiting Professor Series, a monthly event in which renowned clinical researchers will lecture and consult with other clinical researchers at the University.

The first lecture will feature Jerome Kassirer, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, in February.

Another lecture series, the Visiting Scholar in Health Disparities Research, will feature researchers who focus on reducing health care differences. The lecture series will begin in the spring.

Survival Skills for Clinical Researchers will provide the University’s clinical researchers with panel discussions, lectures and interactive programs focused on grant writing, manuscript preparation, career development and presentation skills.

The monthly series will help clinical researchers with skills important for career advancement.

Amy Walsh, a medical school senior, said the creation of the Office of Clinical Research is a good idea.

“Every (type of clinical research) is for the entire body, you can’t just say this is just for dentistry,” Walsh said. “It needs to incorporate all aspects of medicine.”