SCTR: Applying Research to the Clinical Setting

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SCTR: Applying Research to the Clinical Setting




Guest:  Dr. Kathleen Brady – Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Host:  Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatry


Dr. Linda Austin:  I’m Dr. Linda Austin.  I’m talking, today, with Dr. Kathleen Brady who is Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research here at the Medical University of South Carolina.  Dr. Brady, you have launched a very important program for the medical university, SCTR.  What do those initials stand for?


Dr. Kathleen Brady:  That stands for the South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute.  This is a group that was catalyzed by an initiative from the National Institutes of Health.  Part of what the National Institutes of Health had in mind with this is this whole notion that while a tremendous amount of money was infused into the budget for medical research that, really, a lot of the outcomes that we look at to see if our research is really improving people’s lives had not improved to the extent we would expect. 


So, the idea was, perhaps, there are some sticking points where research isn’t quite making it into the clinic or, then, from an academic health center, like ours, out into the community.  And these clinical and translational research awards are designed to help, exactly, with those transitions, the transitions between getting a basic science development tested in the clinic and in humans for the first time.  And then, once we know that it works, because we’ve some double-blind placebo-controlled study in a highly controlled setting, figuring out how do we get it out to the community?  How do we make sure this discovery really changes people’s lives?


Dr. Linda Austin:  Can you give an example?


Dr. Kathleen Brady:  One great example is that, at MUSC, we have done a great deal of work looking at pharmaco therapies, medications that one might use to treat alcohol dependence and to get people’s drinking out of the dependent range into a more reasonable range or to have people become completely abstinent.  Now, there are three drugs that are approved by the FDA for treatment of alcohol dependence, yet the penetration of those drugs, the amount that they’re used by clinicians in everyday practice, is extremely low, especially considering all the health consequences and the health costs of excessive alcohol use. 


So, one of the things that SCTR would use its money and resources for is to help these clinical scientists who are discovering these agents connect better with community members and community clinicians and figure out, why is it that it’s not prescribed more often. What can we do to help bridge that gap between this discovery that we have here, at MUSC, and having it really make a difference in the lives of people in South Carolina? 


Dr. Linda Austin:  That sounds like a really important but also a pretty complex task, to make those connections happen.  What are some of the ways that SCTR is going about trying to facilitate those interactions between bench scientists and clinicians?


Dr. Kathleen:  One of the things that we’re trying to do is assist investigators in surmounting some of these regulatory obstacles to trying things in humans.  We’re also just trying to make better connections through seminars and workshops and encouraging basic scientists to work with clinicians.   We’ve also initiated pilot project funds.  So, we’ll give someone up to $40,000 to $50,000 for a one or two-year project, if that project brings together a new group of collaborators, basic scientists, plus, clinicians to work in some innovative area that they’ve never worked in before. 

So, that’s what we’re doing to get basic scientists and clinicians together.


We’ve taken a different approach to getting the clinicians together with the community.  One of the first things we’ve done is pull together a community advisory board with leadership from throughout the state, people that run hospitals as well as clinics, as well as community advocates, some of the people that are working to promote health and prevention efforts in neighborhoods throughout Charleston and the rest of South Carolina. 


So, we’re sort of picking the brains of these people to say, what is that prevents us from implementing some of these discoveries from MUSC and other health centers more broadly, and how can you help us do research that’s more relevant to the community? Sometimes what we hear is, well, the things you guys are testing, those aren’t the things we see as big problems, and/or, well, a clinician might say, that complicated therapy, with all of its monitoring and blood work, I’ll never be able to do that in my clinic.  That’s the kind of feedback we need.  We need them to help us figure out how to better design our research so it will be something that they can implement, and then help us identify the obstacles to implementation of the findings that we already have.


Dr. Linda Austin:  Dr. Brady, I’ve known you for many years, if not decades, now.  I remember you as a resident, and you were one of the best practical problem solvers I have ever met, so I can’t think of anybody better to head up this effort.  Congratulations on your great work.


Dr. Kathleen Brady:  Thank you very much and thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to talk about it.  It’s a very exciting endeavor and I think we’ve really got a lot of people energized about working together, people who hadn’t worked together prior to this.  So, I think it really has been a catalyst for what will be innovative and, I hope, groundbreaking work here at MUSC. 



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