The American Society of Hematology (ASH) Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI) was initiated in 2003 and prepares fellows and junior faculty to conduct patient-oriented clinical research in all areas of hematology, including the hematological malignancies (leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, myeloproliferative neoplasms) and non-malignant hematology (bleeding and clotting disorders and diseases of red and white blood cells). Having a physician workforce prepared to conduct this research is critical to converting developments in laboratory and pre-clinical research to the care of patients and populations. CRTI is a year-long program that includes a week-long Summer Workshop, ongoing mentoring, and two follow-up meetings. This application requests support for the 2015 CRTI Summer Workshop, which is the kick-off event for the 20 fellows and junior faculty who will be trained in the program. The goals of the Summer Workshop are to provide participants feedback on their research proposals, build professional networks among the participants and faculty, and identify mentors who will work with the participants over the course of the following year to ensure the investment in the CRTI experience is well utilized. The Summer Workshop includes at least as many faculty instructors as participants. It features national and international experts in hematology, clinical trial desig, and biostatistics. The week-long program includes interactive didactic sessions, small group breakouts, and time for informal interactions. ASH undertakes a multi-pronged strategy to ensure the appropriate representation of women and minority participants in both the participant and faculty groups. The strategy for participants includes initial outreach to secure the largest possible pool of female and minority applicants as well as focused discussions about diversity goals during the finalist selection process. Female and minority faculty are likewise actively identified from among past program participants and through the network of past and current CRTI faculty. The CRTI Summer Workshop is evaluated by the participants. Results of the 2014 CRTI Summer Workshop post-workshop evaluation indicate the event was successful in mentors providing very helpful recommendations on the proposed research plans (95% of participants). The entirety of the program is also systematically evaluated. Of the 140 CRTI participants from 2003-2009 surveyed in 2010, 87% stated they had been successful in establishing a patient-oriented clinical research study, 85% considered themselves to be clinical investigators, and 90% were conducting research as part of their current jobs. Approximately 40% had an ongoing collaboration with a CRTI mentor. CRTI participants have been extremely productive, with over 1,000 peer-reviewed publications, 170 book chapters, and 100 review articles amongst them. They have earned 78 NIH grants as principal investigators.
Hematological diseases affect a significant number of Americans; hematological malignancies alone were estimated to result in over 55,350 deaths in 2014, and venous thromboembolism will be a discharge diagnosis for over 500,000 hospitalized patients. Improvements in the care of patients with hematologic diseases will result from patient-oriented clinical research that will inform improvement of risk stratification, development of nove therapies (including molecularly-targeted treatments), evaluation of newer as well as more established treatments, improvement of supportive care, and identification of cost-effective approaches that maximize patient survival and quality of life. The American Society of Hematology Clinical Research Training Institute is a crucial career development program to maximize the research skills of hematologists who will be leading the research projects and programs aiming to improve patient care.