TIN Seminars Spark Clinical Trial Interest and ‘Listening Sessions’

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Photo caption: Atul Kothari, M.D., meets with TRI Associate Director John Arthur, M.D., Ph.D., to vet his study idea for possible multisite collaboration in the Trial Innovation Network.

Photo: UAMS' Atul Kothari, M.D., meets with TRI Associate Director John Arthur, M.D., Ph.D., to vet his study for multisite collaboration in the Trial Innovation Network (TIN).

At two seminars in December, clinical researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI) learned about intriguing new possibilities for their research.

Hosted by TRI, the seminars featured Dixie Thompson, representing the national Trial Innovation Network (TIN), which aims to help researchers at Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program institutions like UAMS.

The network can help researchers strengthen their clinical studies by finding collaborators at other CTSA sites; Thompson encouraged the 70-plus attendees to submit proposals to TRI, a liaison for the TIN.

The Trial Innovation Network provides investigators with access to the entire CTSA consortium, about 60 institutions and 500 affiliated hospitals around the country.

Clinical researchers with a good study proposal or early-stage project are encouraged to contact TRI to determine if it could benefit from a multisite collaboration. TRI Director Laura James, M.D., and Associate Director John Arthur, M.D., Ph.D., are holding Listening Sessions with researchers who may be interested but are not sure if they have a good candidate study. Researchers who have questions or would like to schedule a session are urged to contact TRI Executive Director Amy Jo Jenkins, AJJenkins@uams.edu.

Atul Kothari, M.D., a UAMS infectious diseases specialist and researcher, found Thompson’s presentation informative and relevant for UAMS researchers.

“If you don't have a multisite collaboration for your clinical research project or if you have started a project and find out that you're not recruiting enough patients in your own site, then that is a potential opportunity to link up with other sites.”

The Trial Innovation Network is successfully addressing the challenge of clinical trial design, particularly related to enrollment, said TRI Associate Director John Arthur, M.D., Ph.D.

“They have the ability to find centers that can participate in your trial,” said Arthur, who is conducting multisite research on chronic kidney disease. “For instance, if you're interested in a fairly rare disease and you need multiple centers to be able to enroll the patients that you need, the Trial Innovation Network will share that with all of the individual CTSAs and find out from their investigators how many patients they might have at each center.”

“It's a really nice way to be able utilize the CTSA system as a whole for clinical trials,” he added.

As part of the network, TRI also fields inquiries through the network from CTSA investigators seeking collaborators at UAMS.

Stacie Jones, M.D., a TRI facilitator for the Trial Innovation Network at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI), said the network has drawn a lot of interest from child health researchers, including faculty who are new to clinical research.

“The TIN provides an opportunity for clinic groups to expand their impact through engagement in multicenter trials,” said Jones, professor and chief of Allergy and Immunology at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “This has broad applicability across many medical subspecialties in child health. The TIN has already provided research groups like pediatric orthopaedics, critical care and infectious disease opportunities to participate with other centers.”

Jones and Janet Storment, clinical trials administrator at ACRI, are the TRI contacts for faculty on the ACH campus interested in collaborations with other CTSAs. ACH-based faculty interested in possibly using the network are encouraged to contact either Jones, JonesStacieM@uams.edu, or Storment, StormentJS@archildrens.org.

The TRI-supported effort also establishes even stronger links between UAMS and ACRI, Jones said.

“We’re building more bridges between our campuses, and the Trial Innovation Network - with the infrastructure of TRI - is a great opportunity for us to work together to find new clinical trials and facilitate collaboration for our researchers,” Jones said.

Kothari’s newfound knowledge of the TIN prompted him to pitch his own clinical trial idea to the network, pending its vetting by Arthur.

He said Thompson’s visit also revealed for him how vital the network is for researchers at small- to medium-sized research centers like UAMS.
“Investigators at those institutions may have great research ideas, but they would not be able to finish the trial at their own site, alone,” he said. “So the Trial Innovation Network is providing a good opportunity for researchers at these smaller- to mid-level universities to find collaborators.”