VERITY has three main efforts: a Methodology Core, a Bioinformatics Core and an educational enrichment component through its Administrative Core, all funded through a Center Core (P30) Grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Through its enrichment component, VERITY offers a variety of educational opportunities, including the recent mini-course in methodology.
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Jeffrey A. Sparks, MD, MMSc, is the director of VERITY’s longer, main course and associate director of VERITY’s Administrative Core, as well as an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “Attendees [of VERITY’s multi-day event] get quite a bit of feedback about their research project from many different people throughout the course, which hopefully helps them fine tune it along the way,” says. Dr. Sparks. “They also obtain career development advice. I see it as trying to help bolster the pipeline of investigators in rheumatology for years to come.
“Many of those junior faculty are getting promoted and getting big grants,” he says. “I’ve seen many of the projects they came with being published in prestigious journals.”
One VERITY 2020 participant, Namrata Singh, MD, MSCI, an assistant professor in the Division of Rheumatology at the University of Washington, Seattle, was working on a K23 grant for NIAMS on the effects and associations between rheumatologic immunosuppressive drugs and cancer outcomes, which she was able to discuss in a small group setting with other participants and VERITY faculty.
Dr. Singh describes this specific feedback as the most helpful part of the program; she learned her planned study outcome would probably be hard to measure, and its validity might not be accepted by reviewers. “I reshaped my grant to reflect that. I think it was a critical insight for me,” she says.
To stay informed via email about offerings and opportunities through VERITY, interested individuals can apply for a free membership, which also provides access to various live-streamed meetings and seminars, the VERITY video library and other features.
Dr. Solomon concludes, “As an editor and the principal investigator of VERITY, my goal is to have more of the rheumatology community—more of the NIAMS research community—appreciate how to perform rigorous clinical research using the best methodology. That way, we can make sure that our journals are filled with good science and our clinicians are practicing good medicine based on solid evidence.”
Ruth Jessen Hickman, MD, is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine. She is a freelance medical and science writer living in Bloomington, Ind.