Improving Clinical Research Efficiency in a Large Urban Academic Center: challenges and opportunities


Background: The successes of clinical research are indisputable: life expectancy is longer, mortality due to acute illnesses is lower, and the burden of symptoms of chronic illness are possibly more tolerable. Yet, there are more challenges, some expected and some not, that need to be faced, which potentially jeopardizes any achieved successes.

Objectives:  As part of Research Capacity Core Hub of the Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, we sought to identify barriers to efficient, high-quality research, for the greater Richmond community and surrounding areas.

Methods: We convened a group of 20 researchers and staff members, and provided them a summary of the goals listed in the CTSA grant applications related to the design and implementation of a successful, efficient, and high-quality, clinical research program that would be inclusive of subjects of all sex identities, diverse ethnic/racial background, and across the entire spectrum of ages. We then asked them to provide a list of top 4 barriers and strategies to achieve those goals, and eventually asked them to vote on the top 4 short-term initiatives that would be expected to have the largest impact.

Results: The Hub members generated 22 partially overlapping barriers-strategies, and then identified 4 initiatives generated by the integration of the original proposals. A table summarizing the 4 initiatives is below:

Conclusions: Investigators in academic medical centers face multiple barriers to clinical research. The CTSA Research Capacity Hubs have the opportunity to coordinate knowledge and resources in order to identify gaps and strategies to promote efficient, high-quality, research for all. We share some examples of short-term initiatives started by the Wright CCTR for this purpose.