That’s one reason why the Center for Industry Research Collaboration within Wake Forest Innovations exists – to help navigate and unify all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into clinical research projects here at the Medical Center so research teams can efficiently and productively collaborate with industry partners to address clinical research needs of mutual interest.
As a new project administrator for the Center for Industry Research Collaboration, that’s exactly the role Catherine Ward, PhD plays. Her background and experience give her first-hand knowledge into the effort required to translate studies from the bench to the clinic and to help investigators manage the business, regulatory and relationship aspects of research collaboration with industry partners.
Q: What can you tell us about your research background?
A: My early work as a PhD student at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine focused on studying oxygen-generating materials for tissue salvage and regeneration. Since then, much of my research has had a military focus, which stems from my experience growing up in a military family near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I worked at the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research for four years, as a post-doctoral research fellow and later as a staff scientist in the Extremity Trauma and Regenerative Medicine department. There, I conducted preclinical research on injectable therapeutic scaffolds for bone regeneration, evaluated wound healing in the presence of infection, and studied complex muscle-bone injuries in animal models.
My focus then transitioned to the clinical side, managing orthopaedic and rehabilitation protocols at San Antonio Military Medical Center’s Clinical Research Center. I coordinated enrollment, screening, data collection and analysis for orthopaedic injury protocols and device studies, including those involving braces and prosthetics for soldiers experiencing limb salvage or amputations. It was a humbling and rewarding experience working with such an amazing group of men and women.
Q: Describe your new role in working directly with faculty and staff across the Medical Center.
A: I’m essentially a liaison between clinical investigators and industry scientists, facilitating and synchronizing the clinical research process from start to finish. As a resource for our faculty and staff, I’ll help with study planning, coordination and overall management of existing internal resources and processes, with the scope of involvement depending on specific project needs. Tasks might include assistance with quote development, contract and budget review, meeting scheduling, site visit coordination, study design, subject recruitment, screening and enrollment, data collection and analysis and ongoing protocol review. I’ll also be available to help navigate through the regulatory components involved in clinical research. I hope to serve our investigators and staff by ensuring strong communication among the many groups involved in study/trial preparation, while providing a consistent and quality experience for our industry partners.
Q: How will you work with industry?
A: The key to a successful partnership between clinical researchers and industry is open communication and trust. I’ll be an active communicator, working closely with industry sponsors to lay out the study design, schedule site and training visits and address any protocol or budget issues that occur. This is a dynamic position, with different challenges and opportunities at hand every day, but my goal is to make the entire process as efficient as possible for all parties involved. I hope that our industry collaborators will consider me and my colleagues at the Center for Industry Research Collaboration as the “customer service representatives” for the expert clinical researchers at the Medical Center.
Q: Why is clinical research exciting to you?
A: Even when doing bench work, my passion has always been clinical translation. It’s amazing how research can evolve from an idea in the lab to a life-changing cure or solution. Working with the military patient population, I had the opportunity to see research make this transition firsthand. I remember a wounded soldier who could barely walk and how his mobility, and quality of life, drastically changed with testing of a state-of-the-art brace. This was a turning point when I knew I’d focus my career on clinical research management.
Q: Why Wake Forest Innovations?
A: I feel fortunate to be back at Wake Forest Baptist. At the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, I had the opportunity to collaborate with physicians and scientists who are leading the future of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. This experience pushed my interest in scientific discovery and clinical translation. The investigators at Wake Forest Baptist represent some of the best experts in the field, and they have made amazing advances in patient care. I’m excited to be part of the forward-thinking culture of innovation here.
Q: What clinical research advice do you have for our faculty and staff?
A: The Center for Industry Research Collaboration is here to help, so please reach out to us. We’ll start with an introductory meeting to learn about your specific needs, goals and address any concerns with industry-sponsored research. Clinical trials aren’t always easy – they require time, resources and expertise. We’re part of the equation to help advance your research. It’s all about teamwork. The more we know, the more we can work together as partners to move the research forward.
To learn more about how the Center for Industry Research Collaboration can address your clinical trial needs, contact Catherine Ward at 336.713.1696 or email@example.com