Sylvester Research Administration Posters Showcased at National Conference

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A team from Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Clinical Research Services (CRS) and Sylvester administration recently shared their best practices and key insights with leading academic medical centers across the nation. Overall, the Sylvester professionals showcased 10 posters at the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) annual Clinical Research Initiative (CRI) conference in Chicago. Sylvester displayed more posters than any other cancer center.

Lauren Gjolaj and Avantika Dang with their poster, which won third place.

“We are very proud to have such a presence at the AACI CRI this year,” said Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “It clearly highlights the impact that our cancer center and our clinical researchers and leadership team are having in clinical research.”

Helen Peck, R.N., M.A., executive director of clinical research services, said the theme of this year’s annual meeting was “Leveraging Change to Advance Cures for Cancer Patients.” Peck, who is on the steering committee of the AACI CRI, presented Sylvester’s work on establishing a research radiology clinic as part of a panel session entitled, “Overcoming RECISTance to Providing Solid Tumor Evaluations for Cancer Clinical Trials.”

A poster presented by Lauren Gjolaj, M.B.A., B.S.N., R.N., director of clinical operations, and Avantika Dang, MHA, director of business operations, placed third of 68 submissions. Their poster on “Framework for Strategic Performance Management in an Academic Cancer Center’s Research Administration Finance Office” included contributions from Yunie Castillo, M.P.H., and Jorge Contreras, M.B.A.

“We applied a Lean Six Sigma framework to clinical research finance practices,” said Dang. “Clinical trial finances are complex and involve multiple processes, functional units, and inputs. We used Lean Six Sigma process improvement tools to critically evaluate processes and use a data-driven approach to identify opportunities for improvement and increase the efficiency of our internal processes and systems.”

She added that the conference provided a collegial environment to learn from other institutions, such as best practices for implementing clinical research at satellite facilities.

Topics of other abstracts showcased by the Sylvester team included:

  • Implementation of a molecular tumor board
  • Opportunities and challenges in growing Phase I research infrastructure
  • Implementing an electronic protocol review system
  • Implementing a CCSG dashboard
  • Implementing a tracking system for clinical research
  • Optimizing the regulatory department infrastructure
  • Reducing protocol activation times through centralization of study start-up tasks
  • Using rapid cycle improvement to design a scalable appointment scheduling system for complex oncology clinical trials at an academic cancer center
  • Utilizing voice of the customer in clinical research to drive “Plan Do Study Act” (PDSA) process improvement projects at an academic cancer center

The Association of American Cancer Institutes comprises 98 leading cancer research centers in North America. AACI’s membership roster includes National Cancer Institute-designated centers and academic-based cancer research programs that receive NCI support.