plans to bolster clinical research
of Health System Marketing & Communications
The Medical School plans to address a shortage of clinical
research-- studies that may have more immediate applications
for patient care -- by developing a Clinical Investigator
to mend what he called a "breakdown" in translating
the University's basic medical research into clinical applications,
of Medicine dean Robert M. Carey used the occasion of his
annual address to announce a new program to attract and train
new clinical researchers.
lack of clinical research at U.Va. is part of a nationwide trend,
Carey explained afterward. "It's the pressure of managed care,
calling on physicians to do more clinical work and less research,"
he said. The pressures of living year-to-year on grant funding
are also a disincentive, he noted.
shortage of M.D.'s doing clinical investigation -- research with
direct implications for patient care -- has become so acute that
a national meeting of such doctors dissolved due to lack of attendance,
new Clinical Investigator Research Program -- which puts U.Va.
among the forefront of schools seeking to address the problem
-- has four prongs, Carey said.
first to is recruit clinical researchers holding either a medical
degree or a combination of an M.D. and a Ph.D. for laboratory
and patient-oriented research. To that end, the plan calls for
offering lab space, seed funding and a guarantee of 80 percent
protected time for research purposes for three years, Carey said.
Ultimately, he hopes to recruit 10 such researchers per year for
a five-year period, although currently there are only enough resources
available for half of that total, he said.
second element is training existing clinicians and basic scientists
in patient-oriented research. Carey proposed a "multidisciplinary
training program in clinical investigation," which would award
a master's degree upon completion. A limited number of tenure-track
faculty members would be chosen through a competitive process
each year, with support from the administration and a research
start-up package available upon completion of the program.
also called for increased mentoring among faculty members and
revised tenure guidelines for clinical investigators. Toward the
latter end, publications co-authored with a senior mentor would
count toward promotion to associate professor, Carey said.
added that the new program should attract some so-called "K-awards"
from the National Institutes of Health, designed to spur more
clinical investigation nationwide. Under Carey's proposal, those
grants -- which are less competitive than traditional grants --
would also be able to serve as the basis for promotion to associate
hopes to support the Clinical Investigator Research Program through
private fund raising, he said, noting that the more disease-oriented
nature of clinical research and its less-esoteric-sounding purposes
may make it attractive to potential donors.