Julie Panepinto, MD, MSPH, and Mark Crowther, MD
Drs. Panepinto and Crowther are the 2012 Co-Directors of CRTI.
As the Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI) celebrates its 10th anniversary, it is an opportune time to reflect on the current state of the program. Initially, admission to the CRTI was restricted to members from North America. Two years ago, eligibility criteria were modified to allow ASH members (North American or International) in good standing who meet other eligibility criteria to apply for and be accepted into CRTI. A competitive selection process leads to acceptance of 20 well-qualified participants each year.
What makes this program unique is the 1:1 faculty-to-participant ratio, a feature that has been carefully protected over the life time of the program. Participants are paired with faculty mentors, and this relationship is maintained over the course of the year and often beyond. The goal of the program is to provide exceptional training in how to conduct rigorous patient-oriented clinical research. To achieve this goal, CRTI participants attend a series of didactic lectures presented during the weeklong summer workshop; revise and refine their research projects in small-group sessions, both at the workshop and over the course of the year; and draw on the special skills of the faculty that include expertise in biostatistics, bioinformatics, and clinical trial design.
Collaboration with CRTI faculty often continues after the program is completed. For example, with CRTI faculty, CRTI graduates co-author evidence-based mini-reviews for Hematology, the ASH Education Program. In addition to the intense focus on teaching participants how to conduct patient-oriented clinical research, the overarching aim of CRTI is to create an atmosphere that encourages scholarship, career development, networking, and fosters long-term mentoring relationships.
CRTI costs approximately $400,000 per year to operate, with the bulk of the expenditures going to support the summer workshop. The program is funded principally by the Society but also receives support from NIH conference grants, individual member contributions, and an endowment. Looking to the future, ongoing support from ASH members through the newly formed ASH Foundation will be critical to the continued success of CRTI.
Future goals of the program are to develop a stronger, more sustainable mentoring program; to support the program with faculty largely composed of CRTI graduates who have gone on to achieve successful careers in patient-oriented clinical research and are now mentoring others; and to critically analyze and disseminate to the membership the outcomes of the CRTI program. CRTI allows faculty to teach and mentor others while strengthening clinical research methodology, building collaborative networks, and celebrating the success of junior colleagues who are at the inception of their careers.
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