Dr. David Morin, director of research at The Holston Medical Group in Kingsport, Tenn., is a firm believer in advancing the quality of clinical trials. A long-time contributor to the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP), Dr. Morin received the Physician Leadership award from ACRP in 2012 and has more than 30 years of research experience as an investigator, trainer, director, consultant, author, protocol writer, and entrepreneur. He was also just honored as a 2018 ACRP Fellow. We spoke during the ACRP 2018 Conference on April 29 about his experiences with ACRP, the value of mentoring, and why there’s no replacement for networking in person.
You conducted a workshop on “Let’s Get Clinical: A Research Bootcamp” on Friday. How did it go?
Yes, it was a mini version of the full-week boot camp that ACRP conducts. I assisted with the development of that program, which has been taught by a number of ACRP instructors, basically around the world now. At this year’s conference, I did a full-day workshop, taking the essential elements that we thought we would want to cover. It’s obviously best to do this with a co-speaker; it’s always great to match an investigator with a coordinator who’s an experienced trainer…you know, somebody with different perspectives, some industry person versus somebody who’s on the clinical side. That’s kind of what we attempt to do when we teach these courses, so we’re well-rounded with it.
We sold out last year, so we went ahead and increased the number of potential participants and we sold out this year. John Rowell [Director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Office at LSU Health Shreveport] helped me with that. He did a great job with it.
You are also a strong advocate of mentoring.
Yes, people in the business of conducting clinical trials need mentoring, they need guidance, they need training and follow up, good role models, this type of thing. The full-week clinical research coordinator (CRC) boot camp is an excellent way for institutions who had a lot of CRCs or research positions of any kind to come in and just have this experience. It makes them better CRCs.
ACRP offers a strong mentoring program, which is a fantastic way for folks to get connected and help with their educational career process.
You’ve written and spoken widely on the issue of protocol complexity. Can you give us the current lay of the land?
Basically, what we’re talking about here is the intersection of technology and analytics in the field of pharmaceutical complexity. This process that I came up with a number of years ago was founded on two principal questions that I thought were really key questions driving operational efficiency, because I saw how increasing complexity was making it more and more difficult to conduct research. So, you have increasing complexity in the protocols that we use, mixed with the extreme complexity that it takes at a research site in order to properly conduct clinical research trials, so complexity’s compounded in many, many ways.
The key questions are, observationally: How does a site determine which coordinator is the one most likely to be successful with the next study opportunity? Which one? On what basis do they make that selection? And how can I predict the impact that a new protocol will have on existing productivity.
Last question: What would you say to somebody who didn’t come to this conference? What did they miss?
First of all, there’s nothing like being in a room with peers. Coming in person…there are people that I met here, that I probably had e-mailed or done a phone call with, but here you get to meet them in person, and you realize research, as big as it is, it’s really still a small world. Everybody here is driven by the same process of providing new treatments, and to treat disease states, and to improve the quality of life. The whole focus of this conference is to improve the processes that make lives better. There’s nothing like being at a conference and sitting with a group of people and hearing the speakers themselves, to really feel connected to the process, and getting the sense of the vibe in the room. I think, when you come to this conference, you make a lot of new friends that share the same principles. Some of those friends, you keep for life.