The Straus Lecture poster session featured pain research from NCCAM’s intramural division by (from l) Dr. Chantal Villemure, Dr. Alex Chesler, Dr. Mark Pitcher, Scott Thompson, Dr. Lucie Low and Marta Ceko. At right is guest lecturer Dr. Robert M. Califf.
Photos: Lisa Helfert
Dr. Robert Califf recently gave the Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture in the Science of Complementary Health Therapies, “A New Fabric for Clinical Research: Application to the Pain Problem.” NCCAM’s lecture series honors its founding director.
Califf is principal investigator of the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory, vice chancellor for clinical and translational research and professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and co-principal investigator of the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) recently funded by the Patient-Centered Clinical Outcomes Research Institute.
Califf explored challenging areas in the current clinical research enterprise such as data, operations and oversight/ethics. He explained that we need to balance the needs of people to have information for their health choices yet simultaneously protect the rights they have when they are involved in clinical research. Califf emphasized the importance of research, noting that “as a country, the U.S. is doing poorly in terms of our health status compared to our economically developed competitors. One reason is that our understanding is incomplete about what’s effective and not effective in our choices about health and health care. Most [of these choices] are not supported by good evidence.”
On the topic of pain, he said it is “an enormous problem affecting about one-third of Americans and we don’t know much about it from a therapeutic perspective...The science is moving along quickly, but the application of therapies is far behind.” The widespread use of opioids is fraught with problems, Califf added, and researchers need to work with each other, patients, industry and academia to more rapidly advance knowledge about pain.
One ideal tool, he said, would be a “cloud-based national data network enabling analysis and dissemination of data quickly as results are known...The NIH Collaboratory has been an important experimental effort and with its success, we have confidence that PCORnet will also succeed in dramatically increasing our evidence base for health and medicine.”
“It was a pleasure to hear Dr. Califf, who is probably the leading clinical trialist in the U.S. and epitomizes the legacy of Steve Straus,” said Dr. Josephine Briggs, NCCAM director. “We are working closely together on the NIH Collaboratory, an exciting Common Fund project involving many NCCAM staff. This project is building the capacity to perform real-world studies important to NCCAM’s mission.”
A subsequent poster session featured work by NCCAM intramural researchers on pain. Califf’s talk is available at http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?Live=13283&bhcp=1.—Ellen O’Donnell