If there’s one thing we’ve all learned over the past year, it’s that our understanding of science and medicine is always evolving.
But while our evolving understanding of the coronavirus dominated the headlines, vital research in many other areas continued behind the scenes at health care organizations like Carilion Clinic, where clinical research is integral to our mission and goals.
“Research, along with patient care and education, is a pillar of Carilion Clinic,” said Francis X. Farrell, Ph.D., senior director of Carilion Clinic’s Research and Development team (R&D) and an assistant professor of Medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
In fact, for many clinicians at Carilion Clinic, research is part of the job.
"In addition to their clinical duties treating patients, many of our physicians take on the added responsibility of pursuing clinical research,” said Dr. Farrell. “Their research explores new treatments for diseases—including heart disease and cancer—to improve the lives of our patients."
A Culture of Learning
“Hospitals that actively engage in clinical research create a culture that seeks answers to medicine’s most difficult questions,” said Andrea Bidanset, M.H.A., C.C.R.P., the director of clinical trials for Carilion R&D. “Without this curiosity and commitment, there would be no advancements in patient care.”
Curiosity and commitment are two of Carilion Clinic’s core values—the principles that guide us toward our mission to “improve the health of the communities we serve.”
At this writing, 187 Carilion Clinic physicians in 24 disciplines are actively involved in 127 clinical trials—with many more in the wings, as the Research Review Committee evaluated 225 research applications in 2020. These trials encompass a range of research areas and include:
- Drug and device clinical trials
- Phase II-IV investigational drug and biologic studies
- Early feasibility and pre-market investigational device studies
Current initiatives at Carilion include research in these areas and more:
- Aortic Surgery
- Bariatric Surgery
- Cardiothoracic surgery
- Emergency Medicine
- Gynecologic Oncology
- Infectious Disease
- Interventional Radiology
- Nuclear Medicine
- Pediatric Cardiology
- Pediatric Critical Care
- Pediatric Gastroenterology
- Pediatric Oncology
- Pediatric Surgery
- Wound Care
Partnering for Success
And we don’t do it alone. Collaboration is vital to the success of any research initiative, and—like curiosity and commitment—it is a core value at Carilion.
“Our researchers work with industry partners and other institutions to explore new treatments for heart disease, stroke, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, depression, opioid addiction, oncology and other maladies,” said Dr. Farrell.
One example of collaboration is iTHRIV—the Integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia: Using Data to Improve Health. This $23 million grant was awarded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health to a cross-institutional team at Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and Inova Health Systems. The 5-year iTHRIV program is designed to accelerate innovation from the laboratory to patient care throughout Virginia.
During the pandemic, Carilion Clinic also led and participated in research initiatives that contributed in real time to the growing body of knowledge about COVID-19, including partnering with the Virginia Department of Health on a seroprevalence study right here in our region. The knowledge gained from these initiatives was put to use immediately in the fight against COVID-19—and will be used to further our understanding of virology and infectious diseases in the future.
That understanding, and the understanding we gain from every study we conduct, guides and informs the work our experts do every day—and the care our patients receive.
To learn more about research at Carilion Clinic or to see whether you qualify for a current trial, visit CarilionClinic.org/research.