Research news & updates
April 2020 | CTSC Newsletter

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Welcome to our newest CTSC KL2 Scholar, Heidi Gullett, MD, MPH!

Dr. Heidi Gullett was selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants as our newest clinical scholar within the CTSC KL2 Scholar program! Dr. Gullett will begin her training starting May 1, 2020, working closely with her research mentor Kurt Stange. Dr. Gullett’s goal is to become an independent team scientist generating new knowledge about multi-level approaches to addressing social determinants of health to achieve equity.

Dr. Gullett has hit the ground running on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic as the Medical Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Heidi is coordinating the COVID-19 public health response in our county, the hardest hit in Ohio. She created many of the public health protocols that have been expanded statewide. She recruited help as quickly as possible, including our prevention medicine residents, our medical students, and some of our faculty. She has effectively brought our local institutions, her team, and the state of Ohio together to work through this pandemic.

Important SPARCRequest Information

SPARCRequest is the CTSC's new Service Catalog and the front door to accessing services available throughout our collaborative.

SPARCRequest is your first stop for:
  • Research Guidance to navigate the CTSC's vast resources
  • Biostatistics consultations
  • Participant recruitment services for your clinical research study
  • Obtaining your SRID to apply for CTSC Pilot Funding Opportunities
  • Starting a new REDCap project
  • Requesting a Training Consultation or a Letter of Support and more!

Did you know?
To apply for a CTSC Pilot, you will need an ID number from  SPARCRequest  (called an SRID). Obtaining an SRID from SPARCRequest will help you access the Pilot RFAs and applications in InfoReady as well as link you to other services provided by the CTSC. Click on Pilot Funding Opportunities in SPARCRequest and add a pilot opportunity to your services cart to begin this process.

SPARCRequest and COVID-19
We are tracking how many of the requests for CTSC services are linked  in any way  to COVID-19 research to demonstrate to NCATS how our CTSC infrastructure is critical to the research efforts on COVID-19 at our CTSA Hub.

How you can help : When you enter a request, please do the following:
  1. Put "COVID_" in front of the title of the project. That way we can easily discover the COVID-19-related research we are helping!
  2. NEW ACCOUNT CREATION REQUIREMENT: Please be sure to add Department and Institution on the Create Account Page

Please send all questions to
Have you received support from the CTSC?
CitE our grant and SUBMit
to PubMed Central

Acknowledge your support by citing us in each publication, press release, abstract, or other publication and submitting your publications to PubMed Central – it’s required by the NIH

The National Institutes of Health requires that investigators who use CTSC resources and services (e.g. REDCap) or receive funding through the CTSC (e.g., pilot grants, KL2/TL1 Scholar Awards) acknowledge that support in publications, press releases, and posters, and comply with the  NIH Public Access Policy .

When support from the CTSC will be acknowledged in a publication, the publication must be submitted to  PubMed Central  to comply with the  NIH Public Access Policy . Refer to these sites for submission requirements.

Please visit our  website  or  contact us  for more information and specific language.
CWRU Core Facilities Symposium:
Stronger Together
April 28, 2020

The CWRU Core Facilities Symposium, Stronger Together, will be held virtually on April 28, 2020 beginning at 8:30 am with opening remarks from Provost Ben Vinson III. Building on the first pillar of The University's Strategic Plan, "Ignite Interdisciplinarity," the program will feature a 3-part presentation from Prof. Tim Beal from the College of Arts & Sciences, Prof. Burcu Gurkan from the Case School of Engineering, and Dr. Curtis Tatsuoka from the School of Medicine. Following a presentation of their work and the role that research infrastructure plays in it, the presenters will participate in a moderated discussion featuring questions from the research community. 
The symposium will finish with content for core facility managers, directors, and administrators. This seminar will be the first in a summer-long series on core facility management and best practices.
Please follow this link for more information on the speakers and the rest of the program.
Registration is required for this event . Registrants will be sent connection instructions. 

Contact: Matt DeVries, 216-368-1266,
CWRU Translational Fellows Program
Application Deadline: May 1, 2020

The newly established CWRU Translational Fellows Program (TFP) seeks to train individuals in entrepreneurship and the translation of innovation to benefit humanity by connecting them to programs and workshops around campus while protecting time for entrepreneurial activities.

The program is seeking applications from senior doctoral students or post-docs to work through the process of developing a technology for commercialization for our inaugural year beginning June 1, 2020.

Questions may be directed to Cheryl Thompson, PhD, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of Educational Initiatives, School of Medicine, at or 216-368-3956.

View the full RFA [PDF] and apply through InfoReady .
CRSP 401 – Introduction to Clinical Research
Application Deadline: May 15, 2020

Introduction to Clinical Research runs from July 6 through July 24, 2020, Monday, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8:00-11:00 am, and Wednesdays from 9:00 am–12:00 pm.
Application forms, details, and step-by-step instructions are posted on the Educational Programs in Clinical Research website. This course can be taken for credit or as a Non-Degree Clinical Research Fellow (Non-CRF) for no credit. View the course flyer [PDF].

Cost for Non-Degree Clinical Research Fellows (Non-CRF) at 15% of 1 credit hour: $290.85
Cost for taking this course for credit (3 credits): $5,815
  1. The Non-Clinical Research Fellow (Non-CRF) (no credit) is available to individuals who hold M.D., D.O., D.P.M., N.D., D.D.S., Ph.D., and are associated with a CASE affiliated institution (e.g. University Hospitals, MetroHealth, Cleveland Clinic, Louis B. Stokes VA, etc.).
  2. The Non-Degree Option (for credit) – individuals wishing to earn credit for CRSP 401 should review the Non-Degree Student Registration Guidelines at and complete the on-line Non-Degree Application.
For more information, contact
Community & Collaboration Corner
Team Science Spotlight

Stakeholder Engagement in Practice: Researchers and Community Partners Working Together to Build Equal Partnership in Addressing Gaps in Healthcare

Dr. Catherine Demko discovered early in her career at the School of Dental Medicine, that one of the best ways to generate evidenced-based best practices was to produce the evidence directly from practice - thus igniting her commitment to practice-based research with engaged clinical and community stakeholders. Dr. Demko attributes the origin of her experience with practice-based research to the Department of Family Medicine, under the mentorship of Dr. Kurt Stange. There she learned that the key to engaging community stakeholders as investigative partners is developing relationships and identifying the mutual benefit for partnership, both of which require additional attention and commitment on the part of investigators. Partners need to fully understand and believe that research investigators desire to establish an honest partnership with a transparent research agenda which will be carried out for mutual benefit. Establishing trust is essential and takes time, potentially requiring multiple meetings to gain a true understanding between the university and the community partner. Any breach in that trust hurts not only the research in question, but reflects poorly on the University as a whole. Furthermore, it is important that community partners have a clear contact person and open communication with research personnel from the University in case they have questions, need to report a problem or would like to share a new idea.

Dr. Demko currently serves as the Co-Director of Interprofessional Education Evaluation. Along with Principal Investigator Dr. Ellen Leubbers and colleagues from the Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine and the Mandel School for Applied Social Sciences, Dr. Demko works with community organizations as part of the Interprofessional Learning and Exchange Project (ILEAP) which places teams of interprofessional (IP) students in clinical and community organizations to enhance student learning and add value to the site. This model of IP education is being studied to determine if it is effective in addressing gaps in patient care that have been identified in conjunction with the community partner while enhancing student team skills. 

Recently, members of the ILEAP faculty team joined community partners from Neighborhood Family Practice, to participate in a Collaborative Working Retreat awarded by the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative. One of the byproducts of the retreat was the desire to bring in additional stakeholders in the form of new community organizations. To that end, Dr. Demko and the team held a community forum in the fall of 2019 entitled “Teams Learning Care in the Community (TLC2)”. Attended by 55 participants from 24 community organizations, the forum provided the opportunity for the ILEAP team to share about the successful partnerships between student IPE teams and the community organizations in which they served. Throughout the program, members of the ILEAP investigative team were able to engage with existing community partners as well as new potential partners. Dr. Demko credits these in person conversations as the reason that several of the new community organizations in attendance have reached out hoping to become engaged with the ILEAP program.
Register Now for the Faculty Book Club

The Community and Collaboration Component of the CTSC is proud to sponsor a faculty book club bringing together faculty from across the CTSC interested in discussing topics relative to developing strong research teams. Join faculty colleagues in a two part discussion of  The Fearless Organization  moderated by Darcy Freedman, PhD, MPH as we explore the concept of creating psychological safety in our research teams and organizations.

Part 1: April 30th 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Virtual Meeting: You will receive Zoom details upon registration

Part 2: May 28th 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Location: Thwing Center - Cleveland Room
Research Highlights
Dr. Gurkan is the Warren E. Rupp Associate Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at Case Western Reserve University. He is leading the CASE Biomanufacturing and Microfabrication Laboratory. Dr. Gurkan is a core investigator at Advanced Platform Technology Center at Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Dr. Gurkan received CTSC Annual Pilot awards in 2014 and 2019 to further develop and advance this technology.
A cure for Sickle Cell Disease is within reach for Dr. Umut Gurkan and team
Earlier this month, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has awarded Case Western Reserve University up to $3.7 million to assess emerging genome-editing based therapies being tested for curing Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) at leading U.S research universities and hospitals.

Clotting disorders, such as SCD, are a group of rare genetic blood disorders that cause red blood cells to break down. Patients suffering from SCD have red blood cells that die prematurely, which creates a shortage of healthy red blood cells and can impede blood flow. SCD is a potentially fatal genetically inherited hemoglobin disorder and it is often left undiagnosed and untreated.

While some medications may mitigate the symptoms of SCD, the only cure for SDC is a blood and bone marrow transplant. Geographically, countries with the lowest gross domestic product (GDP) report the highest prevalence rates of SDC. These countries are unable to implement costly, centralized SCD screening programs given their limited economic resources (WHO, 2006).

Dr. Umut Gurkan and collaborators developed ClotChip, an affordable and easy to use and produce screening tool. The ClotChip is able to detect and measure the blood hemoglobin type(s) (i.e., identify SCD) at the point of care (POC). The ClotChip reports rapid screening results in less than ten minutes and can be administered by minimally trained personnel. The rapid diagnosis of SDC provided using the ClotChip has worldwide implications for the early detection and treatment of individuals with SDC.

Cleveland-based company, XaTek Inc. licensed this technology in late 2016 and has just received Breakthrough Device designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its in-development ClotChip , marking a significant and distinguishing step in advancing the company's life-changing portable blood-clotting sensor toward commercialization. The FDA Breakthrough Devices Program was created in 2018 to expedite the development, assessment and review of technologies that "provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating human disease or conditions" over existing approved products.
Amy Sheon, PhD is the Executive Director of the School of Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative.
Amy Sheon discusses telemedicine during a public health crisis
Dr. Amy Sheon offered thoughts on the health and digital disparities that often fall along socioeconomic lines, noting how the COVID-19 pandemic has lifted certain barriers to care—like transportation and child care—yet has exacerbated the divide between those with and without access to the internet, where patients can find health information, message doctors, request refills of medicine and review their medical history.

“With COVID-19, healthcare closed its doors and went online,” Sheon said, and now some people can’t even knock on telehealth’s door.
Sarah Ronis, MD MPH is the Director of the University Hospitals Rainbow Center for Child Health & Policy.
Update from the March 2, 2020 Un-Meeting: Lifespan and Life Course Research: Integrating Strategies
CTSC KL2 Scholar , Dr. Sarah Ronis, attended the March 2, 2020 “Un-Meeting on Lifespan and Life Course Research: Integrating Strategies” on behalf
of our CTSC program. This Un-Meeting was hosted in Chicago, Illinois by NUCATS (Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences) and CLIC (Center for Leading Innovation and Collaboration).

The un-meeting was conceived by CLIC’s Lifespan
Enterprise Committee with the following aims:
  • to explore, enhance, and disseminate strategies for lifespan and life course research study design;
  • to enhance recruitment, enrollment and retention across the lifespan through partnerships; and
  • to share ideas and promote new collaborations.

The goal of this un-meeting was to begin to fill the gaps between silos that are created by typical categorical focus of funders and funding mechanisms across NIH. These silos can be particularly detrimental to multidisciplinary teams who study Lifespan (chronologic, biologic, and other measures of longevity) and/or Life Course (the interaction of contextual factors over time that affect health and development).

Takeaways from this meeting include:
  • An acute need for funding mechanisms with timelines and infrastructure that are friendly to longitudinal multidisciplinary research
  • Data harmonization – need for common standards of methods reporting
  • Integration of “special populations” as a matter of course into all types of research.
KL2 Scholar Highlights
April 10, 2020: Column: The number that will end COVID-19 pandemic [PDF]. Commentary by Doug Gunzler
News from our Colleagues
The Advanced Platform Technology (APT) Center is a Department of Veterans Affairs Research Center in the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service. Learn about grant awardees and more in the APT Newsroom.

As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves, the director describes how NCATS is harnessing the combined might of the CTSA Program, New Therapeutic Uses program and more to help overcome the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Collaboration Platform publicizes protocols whose PIs are open to various levels of collaboration: joining forces with other research teams to create a core protocol; admitting new sites under the existing PI and IRB; sharing anonymized interim and/or final data with other sites that choose to independently operate a trial under a similar protocol.

The  Trial Innovation Network and  SMART IRB  will prioritize and expedite requests to initiate multi-site studies that come to them through this platform.
Read the CTSA Ansible for CTSA-related news and updates, find links to the COVID-19 Discussion Forum and more!

The Clinical Research Forum is proud to announce the 2020 Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement Awards . All ten outstanding research studies were recognized and honored through their virtual event on April 15, 2020.
News from the Urban Health Initiative