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New Associate Chief Clinical Research Officer Focuses on Staffing for Success
By droseyb [at] email.chop.edu (Barbara Drosey)
When Elizabeth “Betsy” Goldmuntz, MD, joined Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute leadership team this past summer, she took advantage of the opportunity to contribute to the growth and success of the Institute in a different way than through her usual translational research. She sees the move from full-time clinician-scientist to a newly created role of associate chief clinical research officer as a natural progression.
“After 25 years in the translational realm as a PI doing clinical trials and collaborative work with genetic and genome-wide studies, it’s exciting to team up with new people so we can continue to develop our ever-expanding resources to facilitate CHOP’s research,” said Dr. Goldmuntz, who is an attending physician at CHOP and professor of Pediatrics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “I have an appreciation for how we can enable the successful conclusion of clinical studies and trials.”
Under a new reporting structure, Dr. Goldmuntz serves as a liaison to principal investigators, while including the PI perspective in some of the administrative workings. The new associate chief clinical research officers – currently Dr. Goldmuntz, who will focus on the Research Staffing Office Core (RSO), and Jeffrey Gerber, MD, PhD, who brings his expertise in biostatistics – comprise a team of a physician-researchers in the Clinical Research Support Office who will streamline communication with Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD, chief clinical research officer.
While her new role will require a bit of a shift from her translational research on the genetic basis of congenital heart disease, the relationship of genotype to clinical outcomes, and genomic analyses and outcome studies, Dr. Goldmuntz envisions her administrative responsibilities co-existing with her own research: “I’ll probably take a little bit from my clinical activities and my personal research activities to accomplish these [administrative] goals and immerse myself in research administration.”
Exploring the Familiar
While the leadership team collaborates to define goals for augmenting communication, Dr. Goldmuntz is eager to gain a full appreciation for the behind-the-scenes details that keep the Research Institute moving forward. The Institute has a multifaceted way to staff clinical research protocols.
On one end of the spectrum is the individual PI who hires their own research coordinators, and on the other end are large groups within divisions such as Cardiology who have their own staffing core. The RSO is designed to fulfill the staffing needs of those PIs who don’t necessarily fit into an existing large-group staffing core. Dr. Goldmuntz became acclimated to her new position by meeting some of the PIs who use the RSO, as well as the research coordinators and team managers who staff the core.
“It takes a lot of time to work through CVs and the interview process to identify suitable candidates, and then to train and supervise them,” Dr. Goldmuntz said. “The Staffing Core is particularly helpful for PIs who don’t have their own staff to undertake the hiring process, and is certainly a valuable resource for new and upcoming PIs who don’t have their groups on the ground already.”
The RSO also provides a central hub that enables PIs to pool resources when necessary.
“It can be difficult if a lab has resources for ‘half’ a person. This provides an opportunity for PIs to buy the time they need and can afford by partnering with others through the Staffing Core,” Dr. Goldmuntz explained.
Retaining Talented Professionals
In additional to serving PIs, the RSO benefits professionals interested in long-term careers in research administration, providing opportunities to move from a research assistant to a research coordinator to a project or team manager.
“There are any number of people who have fallen prey to the vagaries of funding changes. While we cannot guarantee another position, chances are, given the size and breadth of CHOP, that there is another study hiring that would allow for a seamless transfer without having to leave CHOP,” Dr. Goldmuntz said. “Among the great benefits of having a Research Staffing Office Core are standardized orientation, training and supervision; and providing stability to individuals hired into the Core so that even as one PI’s funding or needs change, a trial stops, or a PI leaves, the professionals hired to work for them have other opportunities within the institution, and CHOP won’t necessarily lose their talent.”