New clinical research center to advance clinical studies on neurological diseases

Sept. 12, 2013

A new clinical research center aimed at investigating new treatments for neurological diseases officially opened its doors Sept. 6 with an open house for faculty, staff, students and the community.

Laurie Trevino and guests

Laurie Trevino, operations manager for the the Indiana CTSI Clinical Research Center, right, speaks to open house visitors, including Christina Soeurt, center, a clinical research coordinator.

The Neurosciences Clinical Research Center, located on the fifth floor of the IU Health Neurosciences Center, also known as Goodman Hall, will provide a space to provide care to patients participating in neuroscience clinical trials at the IU School of Medicine adjacent to the researchers conducting these studies. The new center is a satellite of the Clinical Research Center, located in IU Health University Hospital and administered by the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, which oversees clinical trials across IU and Purdue.

“From its outset, the Neurosciences Clinical Research Center was conceived as an integrated, multi-disciplinary foundation for patients, clinicians, and researchers,” said David Kareken, Ph.D., professor of neurology and clinical psychology, who sees patients in clinical space adjacent to the new center. “The extension of the Clinical Research Center into the Neuroscience Center helps to complete that clinical-academic vision by providing on-site skilled nursing support, nutrition and sample-processing support.”

Scott Herring and Lyla Christner

Lyla Christner and Scott Herring, both clinical research coordinators in the Department of Neurology, speak during the Neurosciences Clinical Research Center open house.

The 3,705-square foot space houses five exams rooms; a consultation room; a sample processing lab, including a -80 degree Fahrenheit freezer for temporary sample storage; a kitchen to prepare special nutrition meals for patients; and office space for clinical research staff members. Oral medications can also be easily delivered from the IU Health Methodist Hospital Inpatient Pharmacy via a pneumatic tube system.

Dr. Kareken added the establishment of the facility advances physician-researchers’ goal to create a “one-stop shop” for clinical neuroscience research and care.

Prior to the new center, a single neurological research study could require multiple trips to multiple locations, with participating patients asked to undergo a clinical assessment at Goodman Hall, treatment at the Clinical Research Center at IU Health University Hospital and a scan at the neurosciences imaging facility in Walther Hall.

“Just one visit might take almost the whole day, including multiple trips on the People Mover,” said Lyla Christner, a clinical research coordinator at the IU School of Medicine who assists patients undergoing research studies on Alzheimer’s disease. “That amount of travel is difficult for a healthy 75-year-old, let alone a person with cognitive impairment.”

Mario Contreraz and guest

Mario Contreraz, assistant nurse manager for the Clinical Research Center, tours a guest through the new center.

Now, with the pending installation of a state-of-the-art imaging technology on the basement of Goodman Hall, Kristner said the same visit could occur in a single building. This will valuable time for patients, who might be more inclined to participate in studies due to the decreased physical burden, as well as coordinators, who can serve more patients in a single day.

In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Kareken said the center will be used to investigate conditions such as alcoholism and behavioral disorders such as overeating. His particular research employs functional neuroimaging techniques to study the human olfactory system. This include its function in health and disease, such as the ways in which chemical senses drive appetite related to both natural rewards and substance abuse.

“Using brain imaging techniques such as MRI and PET scans, our studies concentrate on the human brain response to alcohol,” he said. “We therefore rely heavily on the CRC’s skilled nursing support for a variety of activities related to human subject care and management.”

Patient room

A patient treatment room at the Neurosciences Clinical Research Center overlooks the city.

Additional faculty whose clinic work takes place in the space adjacent to the clinic in Goodman Hall include Martin Farlow, M.D., professor of neurology at the IU School of Medicine; David Mattson, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology; Brenna McDonald, Psy.D., assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences and neurology; Robert Pascuzzi, M.D., chair and professor of neurology; Andrew Saykin, Psy.D., director of the Center for Neuroimaging and Raymond C. Beeler Professor of Radiology; and Karmen Yoder, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences.

The site will be staffed for outpatient visits three days per week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with additional hours available for patient screenings. For more information, contact Laurie Trevino, operations manager for the Clinical Research Center, at lhackwar@iu.edu.

Read more Headlines stories »