Applying Research to the Clinical Setting
Guest: Dr. Kathleen Brady –
Host: Dr. Linda Austin –
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
So, that’s what we’re doing to get basic scientists and clinicians
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.