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URMC / Clinical & Translational Science Institute / Stories / July 2020 / UR CTSI Coordinates Coronavirus Research to Maximize Impact

UR CTSI Coordinates Coronavirus Research to Maximize Impact

Clinical care team treats a COVID-19 patient in the ICU at Strong Memorial HospitalWhen the first COVID-19 cases hit the University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) intensive care unit in March of 2020, there were no proven treatments available, but experimental therapies were cropping up around the world. Quickly, a team of clinicians and researchers – led by the UR Clinical & Translational Science Institute (UR CTSI) - mobilized to bring the most promising clinical trials to URMC. Since then, the group has helped URMC join a range of clinical trials that have provided extra treatment options for COVID-19 patients.

The COVID-19 Interventional Trials Working Group, which was assembled by the UR CTSI early in the pandemic, coordinates coronavirus-related research across URMC to maximize its impact and its ability to move the needle on combatting COVID-19. With an eye toward meeting the broad spectrum of patient needs, the group reviews and prioritizes COVID-19 clinical trials that will provide the most promising treatment options for local patients without competing with one another.  

“Our goal has always been to promote effective therapies through clinical trials,” said Martin Zand, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean for Clinical Research at URMC and co-director of the UR CTSI. “Our team is working hard to make sure that the trials we bring to URMC have the greatest chance of benefiting our own patients, and significantly advancing the science of COVID-19 to benefit patients around the world.”

But the group’s work doesn’t end there. The group, which is co-chaired by Christopher Palma, M.D., assistant professor of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, and Lisa Beck, M.D., the Lowell A. and Carol A. Goldsmith Professor in Dermatology, also helps get promising studies off the ground.

“Once we determine that a study is a good fit for our community, we want to get that study up and running as quickly as possible,” said Palma. “If there’s something our team can’t help researchers with directly, we connect them with other institutional resources that can.”

For instance, the group has worked with the UR CTSI Regulatory Support team to fast-track IRB-approvals for COVID-19 treatment trials and has collaborated with the university’s Office of Human Subjects Protection and Academic IT to get an electronic clinical trial consenting system (eConsent) up and running in just 10 days.

UR CTSI-affiliated members of the working group have also adapted the university’s health research registry, adding coronavirus/COVID-19 as areas of interest for potential study participants. With diligent outreach from the UR CTSI’s Research Services team, over 1239 individuals have registered their interest in COVID-19 studies so far. The UR CTSI has also helped researchers in need find clinical research coordinators to staff their trials through the UR Connected platform.

All of these efforts and leadership from the UR CTSI have been pivotal in helping URMC researchers quickly adapt and refocus to meet the challenge of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about clinical trials that are testing potential COVID-19 treatments at URMC.

Susanne Pritchard Pallo | 7/16/2020

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