June 6, 2011

Peninsula Regional joins Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network

Peninsula Regional Medical Center, in Salisbury, Md., is the latest health system to join the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network. Developed by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, JHCRN is designed to establish a network of academic- and community-based clinical researchers who provide new opportunities for research collaborations and accelerate the transfer of new diagnostic, treatment and disease-prevention advances from the research arena to patient care.

The JHCRN was established by Johns Hopkins Medicine in early 2009 and includes Anne Arundel Medical Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Inova Health System as well as the medical centers that comprise Johns Hopkins Medicine. JHCRN creates a bridge for research between Johns Hopkins and community-based medical centers by linking physician-scientists and staff from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions with community-based medical centers in the region, and makes clinical trials available to patients who may not ordinarily have access to them.

“The JHCRN is a unique research resource that increases patients’ access to innovative therapies and outcomes research in their own local communities while empowering physicians to develop and conduct a broad array of research projects most relevant to their respective communities,” said Charles M. Balch, JHCRN director and a professor of surgery and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Peggy Naleppa, president and CEO of Peninsula Regional Medical Center, said, “It’s an honor for Peninsula Regional Medical Center to join with Johns Hopkins and the elite Hopkins Research Network, both of which are respected and admired nationally for providing exceptional health care and research opportunities. Through this network affiliation,” she said, “the vision we collectively embrace for community collaboration around chronic diseases—diabetes, cardiac and respiratory conditions, and cancer—will advance our ability here on the Delmarva Peninsula to better meet our mission of improving the health of the communities we serve.”

The JHCRN directly addresses the many complexities of conducting multisite and multi-institutional trials by providing investigators with a larger patient pool and a seamless platform that uses common research protocols. The goal of the network is to speed the approval of new trials while ensuring careful oversight of patient safety. Rapid start-up and timely completion of research studies, aided by more local access to clinical trials, will make promising therapies available for patient use more quickly.

Naleppa added that PRMC anticipates that its affiliation with the JHCRN will serve as a catalyst to attract physicians to the Delmarva Peninsula in select specialties where shortages currently exist. “The pool of new medical school graduates any hospital can draw from is very limited to begin with,” she said. “The nation’s best new physicians are looking to join those hospitals that provide them the best opportunity to not only advance their skills but also contribute through cutting-edge research. Being a part of the elite Hopkins Research Network provides that to us and to them.”

PRMC also anticipates, she said, the future creation of a Peninsula Regional Medical Center Research Institute.

Adrian Dobs, JHCRN deputy director and vice chair of the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins, noted that “we are delighted that Peninsula Regional Medical Center has joined us in this important initiative to combine our research strengths for the improvement of health of the citizens in our region.”

Initially, JHCRN focused on expanding cancer-related clinical trials, including medical, surgical and radiation therapy aspects of treatment. It soon expanded to the development of diabetes and surgical studies. Future collaborations will include a wide range of research areas, including pediatrics; intensive care; cardiovascular, neuropsychiatric, brain and spine diseases; and radiology and nuclear medicine studies.

The JHCRN is a program of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, part of a national consortium aimed at transforming how clinical and translational research is conducted at academic health centers around the country.

“This level of collaboration between an academic medical center and community-based research institutions is unprecedented in the region and is bringing a wide array of benefits to both patients and investigators,” said Daniel E. Ford, vice dean for clinical investigation for Johns Hopkins Medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

The JHCRN is developing new and improved tools for analyzing research data and managing clinical trials, supporting outreach to underserved populations, working with local community and advocacy organizations and health care providers, and forging new collaborations with private and public health care organizations. Network researchers from participating hospitals use a centralized data system to coordinate information from diverse information technology and electronic medical record sources. Clinical research methodologies, data management, research reporting documentation, patient consent forms, and quality and safety control criteria are standardized for each protocol. “With this uniformity, network hospitals can better develop and coordinate their own clinical research activities or joint clinical trials with other JHCRN institutions,” Ford said.

For more information about the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network, go to http://ictr.johnshopkins.edu/JHCRN