Spotlight: Seattle IDCRC Site Visits

Seattle IDCRC Site Visits
Top L: Room where first Moderna mRNA participant was vaccinated in the phase 1 study at the Kaiser Washington VTEU. Pictured L to R: Maya Dunstan, MS; Lisa Jackson, MD, MPH; Barbara Carste, MPH | Middle: Coler Lab at Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI) Pictured L to R: Thomas Smytheman, research technician; Barbara Carste, MPH, director, clinical research trials, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI); Zhiyi Zhu, research scientist, Coler Lab; Tiffany Pecor, research associate III, Coler Lab; Maya Dunstan, MS, clinical affairs manager, vaccine clinical trials program, KPWHRI; Jeff Lennox, MD, IDCRC Clinical Operations Unit co-director; Lisa Jackson, MD, MPH, Kaiser Washington VTEU PI; Kathy Neuzil, MD, IDCRC co-PI; Rhea Coler, MSc, PhD, senior investigator, Coler Lab; David Stephens, MD, IDCRC co-PI | Top R: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center facilities | Bottom: University of Washington Virology Research Clinic Staff. Front row/sitting (L to R): Helen Stankiewicz Karita, MD, IDCRC mentee; Dana Varon, ARNP, study clinician; Lindsey McClellan, research coordinator; Nui Pholsena, ARNP, study clinician; Anna Wald, MD, University of Washington VTEU Co-PI and clinic director; Mia Pertik, PA-C, study clinician | Back row/standing (L to R): Mark Drummond, research coordinator; Amy Link, research coordinator; Kirsten Hauge, MPH, VTEU program manager; Jess Moreno, research coordinator; Alyssa Braun, research coordinator; Matt Seymour, MPH, research manager; Jessica Heimonen, MPH, quality assurance manager; Britt Murphy, ARNP, study clinician; Taylor Krause, research coordinator; Jina Taub, ARNP, VRC study clinician

The IDCRC Leadership Group continues their Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEU) site visits. From June 22-23, 2023, IDCRC PIs, David Stephens, MD, Kathy Neuzil, MD, and Clinical Operations Unit co-director, Jeff Lennox, MD, visited Seattle to meet with the IDCRC Statistical and Data Science Unit (SDSU) and Laboratory Operations Unit (LOU) at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, the Kaiser Permanente Washington VTEU, Seattle Children's Research Center, and the University of Washington VTEU. This was the first visit to the Seattle sites since the inception of the IDCRC. These visits were particularly exciting after more than three years of meeting virtually due to COVID-19. During these visits, leadership had the opportunity to discuss each VTEUs’ research initiatives and programs, tour their facilities, and most importantly meet with their researchers, faculty, trainees, and staff in-person – exchanging ideas and fostering collaboration.

“Overall, this was an excellent and productive visit, an opportunity to interact with two VTEUs and the LOU and SDSU. The collective Seattle teams bring complementary resources to the IDCRC,” says Stephens.

The Leadership Group thanks these teams again for their hospitality and looks forward to visiting again soon.  

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center Meetings

On June 22, 2023, IDCRC leadership visited with the IDCRC SDSU and Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research Prevention (SCHARP) teams at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, including Elizabeth Brown, ScD, SDSU director, Peter Guarino, MD, PhD, SCHARP executive director, Clara Domínguez Islas, PhD, senior staff scientist, and Chloe Waters, MSW, MPH, program and portfolio manager. During the meeting, the teams discussed future opportunities for collaboration and oversight of IDCRC study data.

The following day, the Leadership Group visited the LOU at Fred Hutch led by Julie McElrath, MD, PhD, LOU co-director, Michael Gale, PhD, LOU co-director, and Chris Posavad, PhD, LOU associate director. McElrath shares her thoughts on the visit and the conversations that took place, “We appreciate having David, Kathy, and Jeff visiting our Seattle IDCRC community, including the LOU at Fred Hutch. It was a great opportunity to introduce new staff, take stock, and explore new prospects for future clinical studies and laboratory support.”

Kaiser Permanente Washington VTEU Site Visit

The Kaiser Permanente Washington VTEU is a part of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. On June 22, 2023, Lisa Jackson, MD, MPH, Kaiser Washington VTEU PI, and her staff hosted the IDCRC leadership. During the site visit, they had the opportunity to discuss the work taking place at the site and give tours of their space in the Metropolitan East Building.

“The Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute team was honored to host IDCRC leadership at our research institute. It was wonderful to have the opportunity for our multidisciplinary clinical trials team to meet the IDCRC leadership team in-person, talk about our work, and show them our facilities and even a little bit of Seattle. It has been an honor for us all to work with IDCRC leadership, the NIH, and the other VTEU teams in our combined and ongoing efforts to evaluate vaccines to mitigate the impact of the pandemic over the past three and a half years,” says Jackson.

Additionally, leadership had the opportunity to visit the Rhea Coler, MSc, PhD Laboratory at the Seattle Children’s Research Center supporting the Kaiser VTEU. They were able to meet with the lab’s investigators and discuss their current projects. Leadership was impressed with the quality and commitment of this laboratory to clinical research including qualification and validation of immunological assays.

The University of Washington VTEU Site Visit

The final stop of the two-day visit was the University of Washington VTEU with co-PIs Anna Wald, MD, MPH and R. Scott McClelland, MD, MPH, IDCRC mentee, Tia Babu, MD, MSCI and their staff. Fruitful conversations took place about their programs, future plans, and how to better collaborate across the network. Additionally, the team had the opportunity to tour the facilities in the Harborview Medical Center, witnessing the stunning views of Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains.

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to meet in-person with the IDCRC leadership team and to showcase the facilities, accomplishments, and exceptional staff of the University of Washington VTEU. The visit also provided a chance to discuss our current pipeline of projects and how to optimize the involvement of early-stage investigators. Finally, we had a great discussion about how potentially modifiable study elements like start-up timelines and competitive enrollment may discourage the most authentic efforts to build meaningful partnerships with marginalized communities that promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in clinical trials,” says McClelland and Wald.