In this month’s Research Corner, I would like to share some thoughts about ways for more members of our department (faculty and trainees) to become involved in scholarly activities that come from discovery. As health care providers, all of us are engaged in research to some degree. We all commonly have thoughts like “ what is wrong with the patient “, “what sort of workup should I do” and do such things as constructing differential diagnoses (a form of a hypothesis) and designing a therapeutic plan (a form of specific aims commonly done in research projects) . All of this takes significant scholarly thought and action and is much more related to research than some might think.

Some reading this may say “I do not have any research experience thus I cannot do research”. While you may not be able to get your own research grant right now, the fact is that if you are interested you CAN participate in research beginning right now. How? Well, I am glad you asked. The first step is to decide what it is you are most curious about . What do you tend to seek out if a specific lecture topic is announced or an article title in a journal is publicized? The next step is to express your interest to someone. We have research faculty in every single division in our department, a chair, vice chair for research and associate vice chair for research and an 8 member Departmental Research Committee, all of whom are actively engaged in various types of translational research from basic science to clinical research and trials to population science. Our departmental research resources are expanding in all of these areas and there are identified individuals who are committed to developing the research culture of our department and would be willing and interested in helping you get started. Our DOM research webpage is being developed and already lists many of these services and opportunities. More are on the way.

To drill a little deeper – are there any opportunities you can do now? Would you like to learn how to participate as an investigator in a clinical trial? There are many going on right now led by departmental faculty many of whom use the UMMC Clinical Research and Support Program (CRSP). We can link you with those individuals to allow you to get a solid idea of the skills and commitment needed to do clinical trials.

Perhaps you have a clinical question that could be addressed by an old fashioned “chart review”. Well, the 21st century version of this exists here at UMMC in the form of an enterprise data warehouse. The use of such data can be complex requiring advances training in such fields as epidemiology, statistics, informatics and others. But for those of us with no such training but still have interest in asking highly clinically relevant questions, UMMC has provided resources to allow you as a faculty member to access deidentified data from over 800,000 lives seen at UMMC over the past 6 years through a Patient Cohort Explorer. Using this database is straightforward and can result in multiple opportunities for publication and presentation. I invite you to explore the site and see examples of how to use this tool as well as well designed tutorials. The Center for Informatics and Analytics offer live tutorial sessions and we will be scheduling some for our department later this fall and winter. Stay tuned for announced time and location.

The Department of Medicine Research mission is fully committed to expanding the role of discover and scholarship into the rest of our departmental mission of education and patient care. I am always available (gmarshall@umc.edu) to assist and advise for questions, concerns, direction or guidance to promote research within our department and campus to ultimately benefit the citizens of our state by discovering and developing the best medical options available .

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