ARAC Rethinks Research

By Adriana Barbat

ARAC logo

A new research council is reviewing study proposals in the Department of Anesthesiology. The Anesthesia Research Advisory Council (ARAC) aims to bring the department closer to its goal of becoming a top anesthesia research institution by streamlining the research process.

It was designed to increase trial success rates by evaluating study proposals for scientific merit, validity, and feasibility. Ultimately, the team expects to see an increase in the volume and quality of research produced by the department.

The council will provide feedback from experts with a variety of backgrounds, match resources across the department, and monitor trial progress to prevent problems before they arise.

“The purpose of this council is to give our investigators greater access to the resources this department has to offer,” wrote Bruce Spiess, MD, FAHA, Associate Chair for Research, in a department memo. “In turn, we should see an increase in our research exposure by producing more publications, increasing translation, and accelerating innovation in clinical practice.”

The submission portal provides a clear starting point for anyone with a research idea, said Trevor Pogue, MA, CCRC, Clinical Research Coordinator III in the Department of Anesthesiology, who was involved in forming ARAC. It’s a platform where ideas can be shared, critiqued, and revised on their way to becoming a reality. The council’s expertise serves to move projects along as smoothly as possible. ARAC will also help put investigators with similar research goals in contact with each other, fostering interdepartmental collaboration.

“We’re bringing everybody together; that way we can match resources from one place to another, match people who have similar interests,” Pogue  said. “I think that that’s priceless to really be able to have people with so much expertise looking at your project before it even begins. Instead of you just trying to do it all on your own, you have these people with years and years of experience helping you along the way.”

ARAC will help the Office of Research manage the department’s rapid growth more effectively, he said. The team expects the new process will lead to more research and higher-quality results. Formalizing the process of study proposal provides the Office of Research with a means to track studies, collect data, and reveal and analyze trends.

“We’re all going to be on the same page,” said Andrea Castro Cara, RN, Clinical Research Coordinator III, another founding member of ARAC. “We can look back and see how far we’ve come and how far we’ll go, and I think that’ll be a great tool moving forward.”

Proposals are submitted by the principal investigator through an 11-question online form. Principal investigator involvement is critical in working with the council, as over-reliance on research coordinators can lead to problems with the research project. The council meets weekly as needed to review proposals and offer constructive criticism. If the project is approved, ARAC will monitor the project’s progress and help provide the resources necessary to see it to completion.

Meetings are attended by representatives from department leadership, clinical providers, the research office, and the department’s statistical consulting office, STAR Core. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.

“You have people with expertise from four different areas, and they’re very different but all very necessary for what we’re trying to do,” Pogue said.

“We knew this was going to be a culture change, that this was going be a procedure change — this was going to change a lot,” Pogue said. “But in the end, we think that it’ll make it easier for investigators, easier for our staff, but ultimately better as a whole because everyone’s pushing toward the same goal.”

If you are interested in getting involved with the ARAC, contact Dr. Spiess or visit ARAC’s page on the department Bridge site.