Through Project CRESST: Enhancing Clinical Research Education for Science Students and Teachers, VCU will develop programs to increase awareness of the clinical research process and human subjects protection for students in Central Virginia, to enhance research training for grades 6-12 life sciences teachers, and expand internet-based curricula focusing on the clinical research process to a national classroom audience. The VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research and VCU Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy will work with the VCU Center for Life Sciences Education and the VCU School of Education to develop an innovative inquiry-based curriculum targeted to students in local school districts. Curricula will be aligned with state and national science and math educational standards and in partnership with public school district science educators and coordinators. The clinical research process will be illustrated using an important public health issue--childhood obesity. Two week-long summer institutes for teachers will be developed to expose teachers to childhood obesity, the clinical research process and safeguards and use of the curricular tools developed. Participating teachers will receive continuing education credit upon submitting evidence of incorporating learned information into their classrooms. Use of the curricula as well as the effectiveness of the summer institutes will be evaluated and programs revised in a continuous quality improvement cycle. Tested curricula will be disseminated nationally in partnership with SEPA and through a program website. Through student programs that are steeped in inquiry-based learning, sustainable teacher trainings that are strongly supported within our research environment, and curricular development that is effectively disseminated, VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research and VCU Center for Life Sciences Education will enhance VCU's role as a community partner and foster positive relationships surrounding clinical research in Central Virginia.
Translating the remarkable wealth of basic research knowledge into improved public health depends on an effective clinical research enterprise. A critical component of achieving this goal is strengthening the partnership between scientists, clinicians, the local community, and patients. This project builds awareness of the value and process of clinical research by educating middle and high school teachers and their students using research in childhood obesity-a critical public health issue-as a model.