Spring CTSA Program Meeting recap: a message from CLIC’s co-directors

Roughly a week ago, over 300 CTSA Program members gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 2018 Spring CTSA Program Meeting, with representation from more than 50 hubs from across the country. The full meeting, which took place on April 18, drew together about 275 researchers, educators and scientists from across the CTSA Program consortium, with the goal of learning from one another to make this program the best it can be.

In his opening remarks, NCATS director Chris Austin welcomed attendees to the meeting and offered light-hearted wisdom about the growing presence of social media.

“Tweets really can be good,” he said.

All jokes aside, Dr. Austin used Twitter as an example of the kind of straight-forward, two-way communication that the CTSA Program intends to foster among stakeholders. He stressed the importance of hearing feedback from program members and, like tweets, he emphasized that this doesn’t need to be elaborate or time-consuming.

“Think about your feedback like a tweet – it doesn’t need to be beautiful, flowing language. It can be direct. But, without it, we don’t know where to go.”

Dr. Austin also had the pleasure of introducing Mike Kurilla, the new director of the Division of Clinical Innovation at NCATS. In addition to providing the audience with quite a bit of comedic relief, Dr. Kurilla spoke eloquently about the vision for the CTSA Program moving forward. He sees the advances in medicine from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries as a guiding force for where we need to be and where we need to go.

“The mission of the CTSA Program is to move the world of science and medicine from the twentieth century to the twenty-first,” said Dr. Kurilla. “We don’t expect the PIs to do this work alone, but they can encourage KL2 scholars and TL1 trainees to work collaboratively and lead this transition.”

We saw this spirit of collaboration in action later as hubs from around the CTSA Program consortium presented their collaborative innovation projects. We heard about the creation of a centralized data warehouse as well as a program to facilitate rare disease screenings in infants, among other notable efforts. These demonstrations of team science and real-world problem solving are truly what this program is all about.

The CLIC also had the opportunity to provide an update on our current and future communication and collaboration endeavors, with emphasis on the Common Metrics Initiative. This initiative ultimately allows hubs to see how they compare to peer institutions on a variety of metrics such as IRB duration. We’re proud of how far this pilot program has come and excited about where it’s headed, and we hope you are too.

In all, it was an extremely productive and successful day. As a part of his earlier remarks, Dr. Kurilla spoke about his commitment to the program and the role he intends to play.

“While I’m not here to slay dragons or be a white knight in shining armor, I want you all to know that I’m listening – I want to hear what you like, what you don’t like, the things you’re really proud about. I want to hear about your science and your stories.”

The CLIC echoes these sentiments – we are here to be used as a resource, a trusted broker and a bouncing board for ideas. We are energized by the excitement and positivity that stemmed from the meeting, and we look forward to working together to continue bridging gaps in the translational science process. We hope to see many of you at our home base in Rochester at the Un-Meeting in June!


All the best,

Martin Zand & Deborah Ossip 

Twitter logoFollow CLIC
Twitter logoFollow NCATS