A successful translational research team is focused on specific questions and problems. The goal: To understand more about a particular disease process and obtain an improved outcome for the affected patients.
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“The team’s research program is driven by both the questions they select as a top priority, as well as the availability of the specific technical skills required to answer those questions,” says Lauren M. Pachman, MD, head of Cure JM Center of Excellence in Juvenile Myositis Research at the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Center of Chicago, and the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Ill. Dr. Pachman has led various translational research teams for more than 40 years.
The team Dr. Pachman now leads was created to study clinical and research aspects of the most common pediatric inflammatory myopathy, juvenile dermatomyositis—a rare disease. The team includes two pediatric rheumatologists who see patients and contribute to the research, a project coordinator, a database manager, an administrator and data entry personnel. A pediatric research nurse, who works with the children, may also be involved. The laboratory side of the center is staffed by a laboratory director, who oversees one or more technicians, and a post-doctoral medical fellow, who is currently being trained in pediatric allergy-immunology and pediatric rheumatology, and finally, an experienced and skilled biostatistician.
“Each individual has excellent interpersonal and communication skills to identify problems and their solutions—in addition to their specific technical expertise,” Dr. Pachman says. “They have earned the trust of the other team members. Each person understands what they are responsible for and the type of data that needs to be generated to solve the problem at hand.”