Lessons Learned During the Pandemic: CCTSI researchers led the effort to learn from the experience of shutting down and reopening research operations

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Janine Higgins

In March of 2020, the pandemic drove Coloradans to enter lockdown mode. This was no different for researchers on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The result was that research operations were completely shuttered unless they were related to COVID-19 or essential to patient care.

A group of researchers from across the country wanted to learn how different institutions handled closing research down and eventually opening it up. Every institution involved was receiving Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) – in other words funding – from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences/NIH. CTSA dollars provide infrastructure and resources for clinical and translational research at many institutions—including CU Anschutz where the grant funds the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI).

Janine Higgins, PhD, professor, pediatrics-endocrinology and her colleague Jennifer Armstrong, MD, MPH, associate professor, pediatrics-neurology helped lead the research. They were tasked with learning about conducting research in a pandemic.

A survey was developed and sent to all 62 CTSA hubs across the country regarding the impact of the pandemic and the processes they used to protect research personnel and participants with respect to the conduct of research that was unrelated to COVID-19. 

The results of the survey showed incredible similarities in the COVID responses between major academic medical centers, even though all processes were developed independently. Their report was recently published in a special edition of the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science.

CTSA Program In Action Goals
Goal 4: Innovate Processes to Increase the Quality and Efficiency of Translational Research, Particularly of Multisite Trials