Researcher Toolbox: PaTH’s FRT Group Can Help Researchers Obtain Funding

Cynthia Chuang, MD, MSc, is the principal investigator for the Penn State College of Medicine research team and works closely with the Future Research Topics group.

Applying for a research grant can be a complicated process, especially when data from multiple health systems are involved, so PaTH created the Future Research Topics (FRT) Work Group. The FRT group works closely with researchers who are interested in utilizing PaTH resources for a grant application process, from reviewing their initial study idea to assisting them with the grant preparation process.

"The FRT was created to help people more easily learn about and use PaTH," says Cynthia Chuang, MD, MSc. "We needed this group to allow researchers to see what research studies PaTH is able to do and the nuts and bolts of getting research proposals off the ground."

The FRT group has representatives from every PaTH institution, including all site Principal Investigators and Project Managers as well as informatics and methodology experts from different PaTH institutions.

"We really want to have every site represented as well as different areas of expertise represented," says Dr. Chuang.

When a researcher is interested in working with PaTH, he/she first talks with their local PaTH team. The researcher is then added to the weekly FRT meeting agenda and presents his/her project on a conference call to the entire FRT group. Clinical researchers and informatics experts from each site then consult with the researcher to provide input on whether the study would be possible at their site and to offer suggestions for improving the study design.

"We help researchers decide if PaTH is a good platform for their study. Is it feasible, is it scientifically what we as PaTH think is a good idea, is it a good use of PaTH resources?" explains Dr. Chuang.

With this consultation process, researchers are both introduced to PaTH’s available data and have an opportunity to work with experienced researchers at six institutions to ensure their study designs best leverage the strengths of PaTH and PCORnet. Based on the feedback received during their consultation, researchers may revise their study design to make it more compelling and practical.

If the FRT group approves the study proposal, PaTH then helps with the grant application by providing researchers with any descriptive preliminary data needed to show that PaTH can assist with the study. The FRT group also helps researchers find collaborators at the partnering institutions when desired.

"There’s a lot involved that’s complex," says Dr. Chuang. "The whole goal of the FRT group is to make the PaTH part of a grant application as easy as possible, and we want to make it even easier for people to navigate."

To date, the FRT group has worked with 41 research proposals. Researchers can learn more about working with PaTH here.

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