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Research team at Tufts Medical approved for funding award

Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014 07:02

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Joe Duara / Tufts Daily Archives

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) approved a funding award for a research team at an institute within the Tufts Medical Center, the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies (ICRHPS),.

With the award, the team will develop a method that determines patient eligibility for particular clinical trials. The full title of the project is “A Method for Patient-Centered Enrollment in Comparative Effectiveness Trials: Mathematical Equipoise,” according to Dr. Harry Selker, Executive Director of ICRHPS and Dean of Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

“The goal of this project is to improve patient-centered enrollment in randomized clinical trials, and to help researchers determine which trials should be conducted in the future,” Selker said. 

This Mathematical Equipoise will require approximately $1 million to develop and implement, according to Selker.

“We will use [the] records to find patients with knee osteoarthritis who would be likely to benefit equally from either total knee replacement or non-surgical treatment,” Selker said. “These patients could then be recommended for a comparative effectiveness randomized clinical trial.”

The Mathematical Equipoise project received one of 82 awards approved by the PCORI, according to Associate Director of Media Relations at PCORI Christine Stencel. The funding award recipients were selected from a pool of 624 applicants. They were notified in December, she said.

PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization that Congress authorized in 2010 to provide funding to research organizations working on medical issues, according to Stencel.

“[The institute’s] mission is to fund research that provides patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information they need to make better informed healthcare decisions,” Stencel said. 

ICRHPS is one of those organizations. Selker explained that the award will help it fulfill its mission. He said that its mission involves conducting research that will improve research methods in fields including biomedical and clinical sciences, behavioral and social sciences, community-engaged research and public health policy studies.”

In the past, faculty at ICRHPS has received research grants from PCORI, according to Selker. These projects have included “Assessing and Reporting Heterogeneity of Treatment Effect in Clinical Trials” and “Comparative Effectiveness of Adolescent Lipid Screening and Treatment Strategies,” which both received the award in 2012.

According to a Jan. 27 press release from Tufts’ Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Mathematical Equipoise was chosen because of its work on current healthcare needs.

“This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge,” Joe Selby, the PCORI Executive Director is quoted as saying in the press release.

Richard Karas, Tufts’ Medical Center’s Chief Science Officer explained that the Mathematical Equipoise project has the potential to make significant changes in the research community.

“The Mathematical Equipoise project may change the way randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are developed throughout the research community as a whole,” Karas said. “This shift to patient-centered enrollment will allow researchers to address important clinical problems for which RCTs have not been previously conducted.”

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