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VAAAHS Research Service Joins Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites

VAAAHS Research Service

The VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System Research Service recently became VA’s newest Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites, or NODES, joining nearly 2 dozen other VA Medical Centers (VAMC) across the country.

Within VISN 10, the LTC Charles S. Kettles VA Medical Center joins the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center as a designated NODES location. 

According to VA’s Office of Research and Development, NODES are a consortium of VAMC’s that “have teams in place dedicated to conducting CSP studies to enhance the overall performance, compliance, and management of CSP multi-site research.”

A memorandum notifying VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS) of its acceptance into the NODES consortium noted the “leadership qualities, clinical research environment, support for a collaborative environment, and dedication to NODES goals at your facility were all highlighted as being of the highest caliber among proposals received.”

VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System NODE’s Director is Jeffrey Curtis, MD. Dr. Curtis is a pulmonologist, critical care physician, and professor at the University of Michigan. He was awarded the 2019 Barnwell Award by VA Clinical Science Research and Development for scientific contributions that change clinical practice for Veterans.

NODES work together to share best practices and provide local insights to CSP Central Office and CSP Centers on study design and related considerations that can help with study management and conduct.

“The vision at the national level is that eventually VA will become a continuously self-correcting, self-proving organization that will involve as many Veterans as we can and continually deliver better care,” explained Dr. Curtis.

Awarded at the end of 2021, the new NODES designation allows the VAMC to navigate the often-cumbersome research process more easily. This is accomplished by hiring additional employees whose responsibility is to stand-up clinical trials. The designation also allows for certain studies to be funded prior to their start.

“It’s hard to get these trials started. Practically, as a clinical researcher, we’re almost always paying for the study that we’re starting with money we made from the last study,” Dr. Curtis explained. “The advantage of the NODE is the Associate Director for Clinical Operations will work to try and stand-up trials.”

Ultimately, Veterans benefit the most from this accomplishment attained by VAAAHS Research Service.

“This will provide Veteran’s access to these really high-quality trials where they might get a therapy that that has tremendous promise, but not yet quite proven,” said Dr. Curtis. “These are typically phase 3 trials. It’s usually a case of we know the therapy works, now the question is “Which therapies will work the best?”

The benefits of joining NODES will extend into the future. Curtis noted VAAAHS’ close connection to the University of Michigan, and how the inclusion in NODES will provide student researchers greater access to clinical trials and mentorship from established VAAAHS researchers.  

“It’s a great way to finish off my career by establishing more infrastructure in Ann Arbor that’s going to train the next generation and grow the research. I think it is tremendously beneficial for our Veterans.”

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