The first Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) Clinical Research Symposium in Evansville took place on Friday, December 4. Originally planned as an in-person event during the summer of 2020, the Indiana CTSI leadership in Evansville transformed the program into a virtual event, attended by people from around the state via Zoom.
“Over the past several years, IU School of Medicine-Evansville has been building capacity for clinical and translational research in Southwest Indiana, via partnerships with local universities, hospital systems, and the Indiana CTSI,” said Kara Garcia, PhD, Evansville navigator for the Indiana CTSI. “Our goal for Southwest Indiana is to build a culture of clinical and translational research, innovation, and continuous improvement in our region – something that requires strong collaboration among all these groups. The goal of this symposium was to give all our partners, locally and across the state, a venue to share the great work they are doing and foster future collaboration.”
The Indiana CTSI co-directors, Sharon Moe, PhD, and Sarah Wiehe, MD, MPH, welcomed the participants by sharing foundational knowledge about the Indiana CTSI and its goals for the future. David Haas, MD, IU School of Medicine Robert A. Munsick Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, gave the keynote talk about the Hoosier Moms Cohort study, which he leads for the IU Grand Challenge Precision Health Initiative. The goals of the Hoosier Moms Study are to discover the causes of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) and stop its transition into Type 2 diabetes.
“We’re attempting to preferentially recruit a group of women who are at higher risk for gestational diabetes, for instance, women who are obese or in different racial or ethnic groups that have higher risk,” said Haas.
There are currently 242 women enrolled in the Hoosier Moms study who have completed their first study visit and about 146 who have delivered their child. They plan to enroll of 500, but encountered some challenges because of COVID-19. Haas said they were ready to start recruitment in Fort Wayne and Bloomington, but both had to withdraw because of the pandemic.
“The Deaconess Health System team recruited 50 people since opening in June, which is fantastic,” said Haas. “They’ve made up for the loss of the other sites single-handedly and we are so thankful for the work they’ve done. They’ve been a wonderful partner in this and I’m hopeful that will continue with more collaborations.”
“The Hoosier Moms study has been a great learning experience for all parties involved, and we are excited to expand this model to future Indiana CTSI studies,” said Garcia. “We hope this and other recent projects, such as our work with the Karuna Precision Wellness Center, will serve as ‘proof of concept’ for other IU, Purdue, and Notre Dame investigators interested in expanding their research outside Central and Northern Indiana. As we build up our new IU School of Medicine residency programs in Southwest Indiana, these collaborative projects also benefit our local clinicians, faculty, residents, and medical students by providing unique opportunities to be involved in cutting-edge, large-scale clinical and translational research. As we grow in experience and capacity, we expect more and more of our local investigators to pursue their own research projects.”
The symposium also featured a research blitz, with investigators from a broad background of expertise sharing their work, a lunchtime roundtable with the navigators from each Indiana CTSI partner campus, and a research grant writing workshop. Garcia said they plan to do more events like this in the future.
“I think the virtual symposium format worked well in that it allowed investigators to join from anywhere around the state,” said Garcia. “We look forward to inviting our Indiana CTSI partners to Evansville for an in-person Retreat, to tour our facilities – such as the Indiana CTSI Clinical Research Center and multiple clinical simulation spaces at the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences – and meet local investigators, as soon as it is safe.”
View recordings of the sessions:
Morning Session – Scientific Talks & Research Blitz
Lunch Session – Roundtable Discussion about Indiana CTSI resources