Clinical Researchers Prep for Record Year of Trials

With a record 45 clinical trials either ongoing or starting up in 2016, research coordinators and principal investigators throughout the Therapeutics Development Network took time out in San Antonio recently to discuss clinical research and put attendees through boot camp.

| 3 min read
Patty Burks, M.A., RN, CCRC

This year is projected to be the busiest yet for our Therapeutics Development Network (TDN), the largest cystic fibrosis clinical trials network in the world. With a record 45 clinical trials either ongoing or starting up in 2016, we had more than 400 investigators and research coordinators from every TDN care center come to San Antonio April 11-12 for our annual spring meeting. They came to learn about upcoming trials and receive training.

Because of the tremendous increase in clinical trials, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Inc. provided funding to hire and train an additional 87 research coordinators to handle the workload. 

Although many principal investigators and research coordinators have been involved in CF research for a long time (64 of the attendees have been in the field for more than 20 years!), this influx of new talent got me really excited to join a team in developing the TDN's first CF Research Boot Camp in 10 years. We needed to get these new coordinators up to speed!

After the official meeting, 125 attendees with less than two years of experience in CF clinical trials stayed an extra day for the boot camp. 

As I liked to joke with the audience, boot camp was all of the carb loading and none of the pushups. (There were a lot of snacks…) 

Attendees heard presentations on important topics such as how to select the right studies for their center, how to make sure that patients really understand the study when they are signing up to be part of it, and how to make sure that researchers are protecting the safety of patients in their study. 

Attendees also received hands-on experience as they worked together in small groups reviewing protocols (plans for clinical trials), discussing how to make informed consent documents easier to understand and designing study budgets. Friendships were forged as coordinators and investigators networked with their counterparts from other sites. 


Sean Ryan, a respiratory therapist, was one of those researchers. He has been a research coordinator for 18 months at Stanford University in northern California. 

Sean said that he decided to switch careers when the research manager approached him one day and started talking about an opening for a research coordinator position. The manager asked Sean a pointed question that still resonates with him: “Do you want to save a few lives or a lot?” 

Sean said he knows he made the right decision to change careers. He feels very fulfilled in his new job: “Ever since then, I've loved it. I love what I do. I love the patients, the families.”

It's that type of passion that I find so inspiring among not only the new crop of research coordinators, but also the veterans of the TDN. We all left the meeting feeling reinvigorated to tackle the clinical trials in progress, as well as the more than 20 others that are slated to start this year.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Therapeutics Development Network | Clinical Trials | Researcher Resources

Prior to joining the CF Foundation, Patty served as a CF research coordinator at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. There, she was part of the team responsible for running CF clinical trials and had the great joy of working with children and adults with CF. At the Foundation, Patty's work focuses on supporting clinical research teams across the country so they can continue to provide high-quality, timely conduct of clinical trials.

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