UCSF CTSI Designing Clinical Research Partners in London, Beijing, and Shanghai


Thirty physicians and researchers at Peking Union Medical College Hospitals (PUMCH) and twenty-four researchers at Roche / Genentech in China are currently enrolled in the University of California San Francisco Designing Clinical Research (DCR) course. The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at UCSF has embarked on an initiative to provide its flagship clinical research course to audiences worldwide. DCR has been conducted for more than two decades in the traditional classroom mode on the UCSF Parnassus campus where hundreds of medical, pharmacy, nursing, and dentistry students, residents, fellows, and faculty have designed research protocols focusing on their own research interests. Many have gone on to receive funding and IRB approval for, and ultimately implemented and published the results of their studies.

In the summer of 2011, Deborah Grady, MD, MPH and Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD taught the first fully online asynchronous version of the course. Drs. Grady and Bibbins-Domingo teamed with Chrisanne Garret, MAED to design the online version of the course. Using UCSF’s Collaborative Learning Environment (CPE / Moodle), Ms. Garrett built the four week course including resources, assignments, discussion forums, and evaluations. Resources include reading assignments, PowerPoint decks, sample protocols, online exercises, and a series of recorded lectures. The heart of the course is the iterative development of a 6-7 page protocol by each individual trainee. Students are required to post their cumulative work according to a strict schedule and are then required to give and receive helpful peer feedback. Twenty-three trainees completed the Summer 2011 course. The results were very positive both in terms of the quality of the completed protocols and learner satisfaction with the online experience.

On the heels of the initial positive course, CTSI partnered with King’s College London (KCL) for a blended DCR course. All course resources and activities were online, but small section groups met face-to-face once per week. Several UCSF faculty traveled to London to partner with KCL faculty, including Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD,  Michael Kohn, MD, MPP, and Joel Simon, MD, MPH. Dr. Deborah Grady served as course director and Chris Garrett as course designer remotely from San Francisco. Thirty-two trainees completed the course, and again, the evaluations were very positive.

Now we are conducting two courses in China. The Peking Union Medical College Hospitals (PUMCH) is a fully online asynchronous course. Faculty include Vanessa Jacoby, MD, Ma Somsouk, MD, Paige Bracci, PhD, and Kala Mehta, PhD. Twenty-eight of the trainees are located in Beijing while two are temporarily in the US. The faculty along with Deborah Grady and Chris Garrett are all in San Francisco. The  course has reached it’s mid-point — just in time for a week off to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Trainees have identified their research questions, done a literature review, enumerated the significance of their studies, identified study subjects, selected a study design, identified the variables, and explored ways to enhance causal inference. When they return from their holiday travels and festivities, they will delve into sample size and power.

Concurrently, we have launched a blended DCR course with twenty-four trainees who work for Roche / Genentech. Half of these students will take the course in Beijing and the other half in Shanghai. Sections will meet face-to-face with UCSF faculty who will travel to China, including Steve Cummings, MD, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, Chuck McCulloch, PhD, Michael Kohn, MD, MPP, Mark Pletcher, MD, PhD, and Joel Simon, MD, MPH.

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