With all the attention on clinical matters, it is easy to forget that a substantial portion of the role of academic medical centers is related to research. Here at BIDMC, over 1600 people are involved in research. These include principal investigators, other research faculty, fellows, technicians, and students. We have about 400 thousand square feet of research space under management, some owned by us and other leased.
The chart above shows our research activity in dollar terms over time, compared to the trend in NIH funding during the same period. In contrast to the highly competitive aspects of clinical care in the Boston market, there is a good amount of cooperation on the research front. Many projects are multi-institutional in nature.
One such program is the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, which brings together researchers from Dana Farber Cancer Institute, MGH, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital, BIDMC, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Among other things, this program facilitates the availability of clinical trials of new cancer therapies to patients in the member hospitals.
Of course, we are properly expected to administer these trials in a way totally consistent with all rules and regulations. We recently concluded that we were not doing so with regard to some issues of documentation and reporting. Although there has been no indication that these mistakes had any impact on patients, we temporarily suspended enrollment until we can remedy the problems. As noted in this Boston Globe story by Liz Kowalczyk, we
. . . expect most of the trials to open to new patients within weeks — a half dozen already have — once investigators and support staff have completed additional training on compliance with trial rules and proper documentation of progress and results.
Fortunately, too, during this period, new patients will still have access to trials because of the multi-institutional aspect of the research program.
Hospital officials said about 25 cancer patients a month typically enroll in trials, and most who need access to experimental treatments before a trial reopens would be referred to another Harvard hospital that is part of the cancer center.