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Director’s Message: Summer 2012

Dr. Firestein

“But what does the CTRI do, exactly?” People unfamiliar with the Clinical & Translational Research Institute ask me this from time to time. Our short answer can be found on the CTRI Vision and Mission. There you’ll see an explanation of our “Idea to Innovation” process—the concrete ways in which we speed the translation of an idea in an investigator’s mind to a treatment at a patient’s bedside. On that same page you’ll find a link to the longer answer, an illustrated slide show explaining the CTRI’s activities in more detail. I’d like to highlight one of our new activities in this quarter’s message: the Skin Biopsy Service offered by our Center for Clinical Research (CCR).

The Skin Biopsy Service started mid-January 2012, under the leadership of Dr. Mark Wallace, Director of the Center for Clinical Research. Registered Nurses at the CCR outpatient clinic independently perform full-thickness, 4mm skin punch biopsies. This service is unique in that it is the first Standardized Procedure (SP) written and implemented at the CCR. Per the California Board of Registered Nursing, SPs allow RNs to perform functions that would otherwise be considered the practice of medicine. CCR registered nurses perform the entire procedure after receiving appropriate training. Dan Szpak, RN, was instrumental in establishing this service in the CCR. Over 60 biopsies have been performed since this service was initiated.

The CCR is able to perform biopsies on research subjects at a considerably lower cost than a physician would charge an investigator. Drs. Daniel O’Connor and Kelly Frazer are currently using the service for their study “Generating stem cells by reprogramming human skin cells to probe mechanisms of human cardiorenal disease”. Dr. Lawrence Goldstein, Director of the UCSD Stem Cell Program commented "the CTRI biopsy service is a much needed, cost-effective and important new resource that will lower the barriers to entry for any investigator who is interested in developing IPS lines from patients with a variety of phenotypes or diseases." To access the biopsy service, please complete an online service request.

In addition to our Skin Biopsy Service, the clinic offers many other specialized resources, such as: RNs and Study Coordinators for comprehensive studies, DEXA scanning, exercise physiology (treadmill) with metabolic cart, and research dietitian services, to highlight a few. For a complete listing of CCR services, visit the Center for Clinical Research page.

Gary S. Firestein, MD, Director of CTRI
Professor of Medicine Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine
Phone: (858) 822-3824