YCCI celebrates a milestone

October 21, 2014

Yale shuttle bus campaign

Dean Robert Alpern: 333 Cedar Street

333 Cedar Street is a letter from Dean Robert J. Alpern, MD, Ensign Professor of Medicine, on topics of interest to the Yale School of Medicine community. Write to Dean Alpern at 333cedar@yale.edu.

At 10 years and counting, the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation offers researchers a wide variety of resources. 

Ten years ago we took a careful look at our strengths and opportunities in basic research, clinical research, and clinical medicine as part of a strategic planning process involving dozens of faculty from across the school. One of the priorities that emerged was the need for expanded support for clinical investigators, and in response we created the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation that same year. The timing was optimal because the NIH launched its own effort, the Clinical and Translational and Sciences Awards (CTSA), about the same time. In 2005, the school was chosen as one of the first CTSA recipients in the nation, with the largest ever grant made to Yale, of $53 million over a five-year span. Now overseen by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, the CTSA program is squarely focused on improving human health by speeding advances from bench to bedside. 

A decade later, the fruits of that planning and subsequent investments by Yale and the NIH are remarkable. I am proud of the accomplishments made on behalf of our faculty. By 2008, YCCI was supporting 140 faculty members and 176 unique projects annually, and today it is supporting more than 500 faculty and 1,000 projects each year. 

The primary goals in creating YCCI were to remove obstacles to high-quality clinical research and to create a strong culture in support of clinical investigation and collaboration. Much has been achieved in these areas. This is evident in the sheer number of resources that have been assembled to support clinical and translational research, as well as in YCCI’s education and training activities. 

For example, one of the major challenges facing clinical researchers is accruing sufficient numbers of research volunteers to complete their studies. Today we have a robust engine for patient recruitment, developed in cooperation with our surrounding communities. Our partners in New Haven-area churches and other groups have supported our efforts through an education and recruitment campaign, Help Us Discover (See 333 Cedar Street, Taking Clinical Trials to the Next Level). The campaign has steadily expanded, and starting this month, the entire fleet of Yale shuttle buses is carrying our message, as are ads on Metro North trains and in local media. YCCI has almost 4,000 profiles of volunteers who wish to be contacted for future research participation. 

YCCI supports clinical research at every stage of the process, from initial study design to regulatory support and financial oversight, to the monitoring of large multicenter trials. Our core facilities provide investigators state-of-the-art instrumentation in imaging, gene sequencing, informatics, and other areas essential to their research. Training efforts have been outstanding. In addition to the YCCI Scholars Program and support for the affiliated Investigative Medicine Program, YCCI has provided face-to-face training in FDA good clinical practice to more than 600 faculty and staff. More than 85 YCCI Scholars have been trained since 2006, and nearly all have embarked on clinical research careers. 

In short, YCCI is a valuable resource that will become even more useful to investigators as it continues to grow. If you are not familiar with its capabilities I invite to you visit the YCCI website and get to know the faculty leaders and staff members who make it one of the best CTSA-funded centers in the country.