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National study registry seeks volunteers

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
South Carolina residents seeking the latest information about research studies within the state and beyond now have several useful tools to help them connect and become active participants in science. Their interest and commitment could lead to the advancement of new health treatment options and discoveries for patients suffering from disease and other ailments.
The South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute (SCTR) Success Center joined a national consortium led by Vanderbilt University to develop an online registry to match the interests of participating men and women with research investigators at MUSC. The Research Match project also connects with other institutions to make strides in scientific knowledge and therapies related to cancer and other forms of disease through one central online resource.
In early October, SCTR launched the MUSC Hero campaign, which serves as a local, comprehensive listing of all active Institutional Review Board (IRB)-based clinical trials activity at MUSC. Research Match provides the perfect complement as  a new Web-based, study-neutral (beyond clinical trials) recruitment registry that went live in November. The program connects interested men and women to research activity and researchers who are involved in recruitment. Since it’s launch, its estimated that more than 1,000 study volunteers already have registered in research study activities both nationally and in South Carolina.
“Research Match is a very unique opportunity for the local public to have access to research studies that are being conducted at MUSC and around the country,” said Teresa Kelechi, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor of nursing and institutional research match liaison and recruitment director. “We’re very excited about the MUSC Heroes campaign, which is currently in progress and believe Research Match will complement this initiative by providing the public with even more research study participation options.”
Because it’s Web-based, volunteers self-register online, 24/7, and provide specific information all within a secure, convenient system. Participants are matched using criteria, key identifier information including age, race, ethnicity, health status and preferred distance to travel.  Starting in late January, investigators and their research teams will gain access to the Research Match database and receive information about potential volunteers. At this time, MUSC Research Match coordinators are focused on study recruitment and building up the program’s database before researchers get involved. Once volunteers are “matched” by the system, they may give permission for researchers to  contact them for studies in which they are interested in participating and to begin the recruitment process.
“Research Match features an ability for study volunteers to upload information directly into the system at their own convenience and let the matching system do the rest. The system provides tools that place a lot of control [ability to acknowledge or reject involvement] in the study volunteer’s hands. It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to sign up and get involved,” said Randal Davis, SCTR project director.
For the first year, only National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Clinical Translational Research Award (CTSA) network researchers will use this recruitment tool, although plans call to expand it to other institutions during the next few years. The program is actively recruiting men, women and children of all ages to register in this national online registry. The program is seeking both healthy  and disease-specific volunteers.
Research Match was developed as a not-for-profit Web site as a product of the CTSA Consortium and led by Vanderbilt University with funding by the National Center for Research Resources, a branch of the NIH. SCTR was established in 2009, along with area academic partners such as the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and Healthy Sciences South Carolina, to provide infrastructure support, staff training and management of clinical and translational research activities within the Palmetto state. In July, MUSC and SCTR were presented with a five-year, $60 million award as one of 46 national research network institutions involved in ongoing biomedical research initiatives across the country.
For information, visit

New tool kit navigates research enterprise
The South Carolina Clinical (SCTR) & Translational Research Institute (CTSA) recently added a new online organizational research tool for scientists and research personnel that’s an easy, reliable resource as individuals understand research at MUSC.
“The new tool kit is a culmination of more than a year’s worth of work spent on organizing and providing a practical tool that users can access,” said Stephen Skelton, SCTR grants navigator. “It’s organized much like the life cycle of a research study award and the steps in-between to guide users from finding funding information, grant proposal submissions to the dissemination of results. It pulls together both campuswide and federal resources into one place. It’s essentially a one-stop shop for our users.” 
The tool kit was created in collaboration with the Offices of the Associate Provost for Research and the SCTR Success Center. The Web page features navigational tabs to help users identify topics and updated information to assist staff through the research process. Just recently, the tool kit was beta tested to coordinators, administrators and staff at all levels of both the university and medical center to measure for accuracy, functionality and appropriate content.
“This is great for investigators who are new to MUSC research on campus and don’t yet understand the research process. We’ve provided new links to guide researchers and customizable effort,” Skelton continued.
“Building this tool kit from the ground up was a positive experience that so many people really wanted on campus,” said Loretta Lynch-Reichert, operations manager of research administration, Office of the Associate Provost for Research. “Our hope is to make it both a functional and seamless tool for everyone to utilize.”
Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery newcomer Michelle Edwards’ days are busy as a study program coordinator currently managing five different hearing research studies as part of her program.
“Like the Success Center, the tool kit has everything one needs to manage research activities,” said Edwards. “It's a convenience that's been helpful to me in managing multiple studies.”
Visit or call 792-8300. 

Friday, Dec. 11, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.