James N. George, MD, and Beverly S. Mitchell, MD
Drs. George and Mitchell were the first Co-Directors of CRTI.
One of ASH’s most important goals is to facilitate the career development of trainees in hematology. During the ASH strategic planning meeting of 2000, insufficient opportunity to obtain formal training was recognized as an obstacle for those fellows and junior faculty who were interested in careers in patient-oriented clinical research. To address this problem, the Society’s Executive Committee established the Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI) in 2001. An organizing committee consisting of Drs. Ron Hoffman, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; George Dover, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center; Robert Todd III, Baylor College of Medicine; and Douglas Rizzo, Medical College of Wisconsin, formulated the outline of what was to become a weeklong, intensive training course focused on clinical investigation. Dr. Jim George, past ASH president, then councillor, was asked to lead the program, and he recruited Dr. Beverly Mitchell, 2001 ASH president, to share director responsibilities. Together with Drs. Gary Raskob and Sara Vesely, both of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the organizing committee formulated a program that included lectures and, most importantly, small group discussions aimed at refining clinical research protocols developed by the participants. Additionally, ASH leaders were brought in to participate in informal evening discussions during which they provided the participants with insights from their own career development paths. A cornerstone of the program was the selection of participants who were highly motivated to pursue careers in clinical research and who had the appropriate mentorship at their home institutions. The program started with 20 participants and 20 faculty, and this 1:1 participant-to-faculty ratio has been maintained over the life of the program.
The opportunity for both structured and informal collegial interactions among the faculty and participants has fostered durable relationships. For example, Dr. George recently wrote letters to support the promotion and award of tenure to two former participants with whom he has corresponded since 2003. As documented in Dr. Gitlin’s article, the academic progress of CRTI participants has been notable. Having former participants return as CRTI faculty has been particularly rewarding, and we are looking forward to the circle being completed when one (or more) of the graduates returns as CRTI director.
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