The October newsletter of the Association for Patient-Oriented Research focuses on the inaugural year of CTSAness and includes commentaries from 7 of the original 12 PIs, a survey of clinical investigators at CTSA sites, and articles with titles such as, “CTSA’s Enter A Bad Patch.” Indeed. (reminder, CTSA = Clinical & Translational Science Award … next round of applications will be stressing FedEx & UPS this Wed.
The survey of 52 investigators (from the original 12 sites) is enlightening, especially since they were contacted prior to the mid-Sept budget massacre. 51 of the 52 had heard about the CTSA at their institution – which is a higher percentage than I have experienced at our site. More telling is the fact that 35 respondents felt their research had not been affected at all by the CTSA, with 11 worse off and only 6 better off (3 of those 6 at the same institution). The worst of the worse off were former GCRC-based investigators. No surprise there. The better off had received help with study design (a core function that does work well at our site) or pilot funding (another CTSA resource that works well locally).
In a brief piece on the arduous transition from GCRC to CRC within the PCIR … a process in which NIH personnel have inserted themselves … APOR notes that “the range of new tasks and newly upgraded and reformulated old tasks has led to extraordinary increases in effort. … There are many committee meetings to attend (three times more, one Co-Director observed). … There are also streams of requests and guidelines emanating from Bethesda.” Talk about an understatement (& not just with regard to the former GCRCs).
APOR sought feedback and advice from the CTSA directors at UC Davis, UCSF, OHSU, Duke, Rockefeller, U Penn, and UT-Houston. I want to move to Houston, where Dr. Frank Arnett claims with regard to disappointments, “none so far”; and to early mistakes, “So far, I’m not sure we made any, except perhaps underestimating how difficult it is to simplify the regulatory burden and the informatics complexities.” He also notes “A physical home is very important.” Damn – that’s our problem – no identifiable building, suite, wing, etc. for the CTSA. I’m sure our director will get right on that.
Common issues cited by the other directors included underestimating the administrative burden and the lack of budgetary flexibility. UCSF probably gave the most honest and valuable assessment of the program during the first 10 months. UC Davis and Oregon also provided thoughtful feedback in accordance with what had been asked.
Oh, and there is a job posting for a Deputy Director for Clinical and Translational Research at NCRR. “Candidates should be outstanding communicators and known and respected as distinguished individuals of outstanding competence.” All you competent folks please send your CV, bibliography, and 2 letters of recommendation to NCRR by November 30, 2007.