June 13, 2018


Clinical Research Day highlights the role of new technologies in building partnerships

[Originally posted by Duke SOM— March 23, 2018]
Innovation Speaker, Tom Insel, MD


What is the future of clinical research at Duke?

More than 300 faculty, staff and students attended Clinical Research Day on May 17, 2018, to explore this driving question.  The event, which included a resident and fellows poster session, inaugural Innovation keynote speaker, and faculty talks, took place in the Trent Semans Center on Duke’s campus and was co-hosted by the School of Medicine, Duke Clinical Research Institute, and Duke Graduate Medical Education.

“Approximately 740,000 patients were treated at Duke in the past year, and 15,583 people were enrolled in clinical trials,” said Adrian Hernandez, MD, vice dean of clinical research in the School of Medicine. “Compared to other places across the nation, that’s really good.  But we know that the environment here is really ripe for doing even more.”

Hernandez referenced a 2013 Perceptions & Insights Study from the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation which showed that 87 percent of people surveyed globally—and 93 percent of people in North America—indicated willingness to participate in clinical research.

“And if you think about what Duke offers, we think that it can be like this, or even better, in part because we have cutting edge science, we deliver great care, and we’re aiming to help people answer the questions that they’re desperately needing to answer,” said Hernandez.

He highlighted several entities that are already dedicated to advancing clinical research at Duke, which include the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the largest academic clinical research organization in the world, Duke’s Clinical Translational Science, and Duke Forge, a new data science center led by former FDA commissioner Robert Califf. Duke is one of approximately 50 institutions to receive a Clinical and Translational Science Award from NIH. The award was renewed earlier this month.

One of the most important drivers for advancing clinical research is the use of new technologies, said Hernandez, which is why Duke invited neuroscientist and entrepreneur Tom Insel, MD, to be the keynote speaker for Clinical Research Day and the first speaker in the new Innovation Speaker Series, co-sponsored by Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship, LaunchBio and the School of Medicine. Insel, co-founder and president of Mindstrong Health, served as the director of the National Institute of Mental Health for thirteen years before branching into the private sector, first to lead the mental health initiative of Google’s life sciences company Verily, and most recently, as co-founder of Mindstrong.

In his talk, entitled “How will Digital Technologies Transform Health Care?” Insel said, the explosion of technology in the past ten years, and specifically Smart phone use, opens up new and exciting opportunities for clinical researchers.

Clinical Research Day panel of presenters Clinical Research Day speakers from left, Dr. Tom Insel, Dr. Gary G. Bennett, Dr. Heather E. Whitson, Dr. Yousuf Zafar, Dr. Charlene Wong, and panel moderator, Dr. Eric Peterson.

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“Clinical research day is our tradition to share new advances in clinical research at Duke and how to continue to lead the way,” said Hernandez. “As we go forward, it’s really clear that here at Duke, we have all the components to continue to be a leader in clinical research.”