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TEACH empowers, enhances research learning

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
MUSC researchers interested in conducting clinical and translational research now have a resource to connect with others and participate in a variety of planned, innovative educational and mentoring opportunities. The program is a new source available with the South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute (SCTR).

SCTR’s Training, Education and Career Home (TEACH) core was established to give MUSC’s research community the opportunity to gain new knowledge and develop skills and experiences in the areas of clinical and translational research by consolidating educational programs with available resources. Acquiring new research expertise and developing contemporary skill sets is a continuing challenge for budding junior faculty as well as seasoned researchers committed to the development of new discoveries and treatments in medicine through clinical translational research, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
MUSC is among 60 funded academic medical research institutions across the country awarded the Clinical Translational Science Award from the National Center for Research Resources, a division of the NIH, to develop programs and training for researchers to connect to clinical trials and other resources that advance medical discoveries and knowledge.
“At SCTR TEACH, we recognize that researchers desire different levels of training intensity,” said Tom Hulsey, Sc.D., SCTR TEACH director. “We are providing an array of educational and career development opportunities that promote productivity at whatever level they choose. Therefore, as they improve in their skills and knowledge; the more productive and successful they are in their academic career. Ultimately, this translates into improved patient outcomes.”
Like the CTSA network, SCTR TEACH brings together existing educational research activities on campus such as the Core Clinical Research Training (CCRT) program for research coordinators; the Southeastern Predoctoral Training in Clinical Research program (SPTCR); Institutional Clinical & Translational K12 Scholars Program; Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) in the College of Graduate Studies; Society of Clinical Research and Translational Early Scientists (SOCRATES); and new programs such as the Society of Mentors, Annual Mentor Symposium and Searchable Mentor Database; plus seminars, workshops and other short courses.
To help disseminate information for ongoing MUSC educational opportunities, TEACH organizers developed an online calendar tool (available on the SCTR Web site) that allows campuswide colleges and departments to submit and list information about upcoming training programs, classes, workshops, seminars and educational/mentoring experiences. The programs represent different levels of intensity and effort that are available to participants. TEACH trainees also are encouraged to attend sessions outside of their area of expertise to promote collaboration and foster interdisciplinary team research opportunities. For example, an Internal Medicine physician may choose to attend an hour-long seminar or grand round sponsored by the Department of Otolaryngology versus committing to an afternoon workshop.
The calendar tool has opened the door to enhancing additional programs and outreach to qualified candidates. Soon, the CCRT and MSCR programs will transition to include more online options, according to Hulsey. This will benefit participants who can’t physically attend class and allow them to search for topics or a specific lecture using a growing resource library.
“We’re following the national movement of moving away from teaching the traditional independent researcher to preparing an interdependent researcher focused on Team Science —an individual who can communicate and lead a team of research specialists and patients, plus mentor others in the process,” said Hulsey.
Other valuable SCTR opportunities include involvement in ongoing clinical and translational research projects, workshops and structured mentored rotation experiences throughout campus.  
Carol Wagner, M.D., a neonatologist in the Department of Pediatrics, directs a month-long, mentored clinical research elective, offered in September and February, working in MUSC’s Clinical and Translational Research Center (formerly GCRC), that may be an option for doctoral trainees (physicians, Medical Scientist Training Program [MSTP] and dental MSTP students/fellows). Another new program is the development of the Society of Clinical Research and Translational Early Scientists (SOCRATES), directed by Marc Chimowitz, M.D., associate dean for faculty in the College of Medicine, to support faculty career development. This program was established to assist early career investigators, MSCR graduates, and junior faculty.
SOCRATES provides a forum for junior researchers to improve grant proposals, career development and networking with MSCR program participants and interested research faculty. In September, Hulsey and Chimowitz will lead a campuswide retreat to help establish a SCTR TEACH College of Mentors, composed of active senior researchers to mentor and work with junior researchers on campus.
TEACH activities will constantly be reviewed for feedback and improvements as suggested by participants, organizers, campus leadership and sometimes, national leadership. The aim is to find commonality in content among training programs and establish core competencies. Organizers also are challenged to maintain protected time for junior investigators regarding research education and training to help them stay fresh and competitive.
“We want our six colleges, their faculty, and their trainees to know that clinical research—and more specifically the resources provided by SCTR TEACH —are not isolated to one profession or approach. No single program can meet the diverse needs of the university. We hope this program builds a strong esprit de corps within clinical research training and mentoring across campus,” Hulsey said.
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Friday, Aug. 28, 2009

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