Clinical research key in advance to prospective health care

DURHAM, N.C. -- The vast potential of the U.S. health-care system to improve health, minimize disease and increase the value of each dollar spent cannot be realized without a greater emphasis on clinical research, says a Duke University Health System leader.

In an editorial in the Feb. 18, 2004, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, Ralph Snyderman, M.D., chancellor for health affairs at Duke University and president and CEO of the Duke University Health System, says scientific evidence is critical to physicians' ability to assess a patient's risk for disease and to offer the most effective treatments to minimize or prevent illness; these are the key elements in a prospective approach to health care. He argues that health care today suffers from a "lack of a robust clinical research enterprise mobilized to translate basic scientific discoveries into clinical relevance," and calls on the medical community to more fully support clinical research and clinical researchers.

The editorial complements a report by researchers at the National Institutes of Health's Center for Scientific Review examining the role of the NIH as a potential barrier to clinical investigation. The study found that although physicians compete favorably for grants in the peer-review process, funding rates for clinical research lagged behind those for non-clinical research.

"Clinical research -- including the translation of basic scientific findings into medical treatments and the evaluation of patient outcomes -- is the critical element needed to define and monitor effective health strategies," Snyderman said. "Without clinical research, the rational application of research discoveries to the development of prospective care and personalized health planning cannot occur."

In the "prospective health care" model advocated by Duke Health System leadership, physicians would use rapidly evolving tools to determine an individual's specific risk fo

Contact: Jeff Molter
Duke University Medical Center

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