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TDN Site Spotlight: St. Louis/Cardinal Glennon
Reprinted with permission from the TDN Times April 18, 2011


Tell Us a Little About Your Center...

The pediatric program of the Saint Louis University/Cardinal Glennon Cystic Fibrosis Center is based at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, with the adult program based at Saint Louis University Hospital. The two hospitals are right next door to each other on the Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center campus, allowing easy communication between the teams.

Our center is located in the midtown area of St. Louis, Missouri. The greater St. Louis metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2.5 million. This includes counties in southern Illinois and eastern Missouri on both sides of the Mississippi River, as well as northern Arkansas. We serve just over 100 pediatric patients and approximately 60 adults.

Who is on your clinical research team?

Our clinical care and research teams are fully integrated, with all team members actively involved in clinical research. Gary Albers, MD is the TDC pediatric program director and Blakeslee Noyes, MD (CF center director), Anthony Rejent, MD and Jamie Wooldridge, MD are the other anchors of the pediatric team. They receive consultation assistance from Jeffrey Teckman, MD, a gastroenterologist, and Robert Wilmott, MD, who ischairman of our Department of Pediatrics and the former director of the TDN center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Wooldridge joined us last year from Cincinnati Children’s and is our newest pediatric faculty member. The rest of our pediatric faculty can boast tenures from 5 to over 35 years, with the high end belonging to Dr. Rejent – one of the longest continuous CF center directors until he handed the reins over to Dr. Noyes in 2009.

Terry Rhodes, RN recently joined our center as the designated research coordinator for the pediatric CF program. We are also supported by Cardinal Glennon’s Clinical Trials Unit (CTU), managed by Vikki Kociela, BSN, CCRC. Vikki has more than 20 years of CF experience and was actively involved in the development of the TDN during her time as a CF research coordinator at Cincinnati Children’s. Theresa Whelan, RN and Rosemary Nagy, RD, MBA are the primary members of the CTU who help with CF studies. Rosemary has more than 10 years experience in CF.

Although there is not room to list everyone here, we also consider our CF clinic nurses, respiratory therapists and pharmacists active members of the pediatric research team.
Core adult program team members include Ravi Nayak, MD, (TDN and CF care center adult program director), Ashutosh Sachdeva, MD, Mary Moore, LCSW, and Gwen Pendleton, BSN, RN, who joined us just last year as our research nursing coordinator.

What is unique about your center?

Our multidisciplinary approach and our center’s level of commitment to research and patient care are outstanding. Additionally, the proximity of our pediatric and adult programs allows for an active transition program. Adult CF care providers attend pediatric clinics routinely to meet and begin care for adolescents that will transition to adult care in the next several years. This allows the patients to become familiar with their caregivers and the adult team to become familiar with the patient’s treatment plan prior to actual transition.

What makes you proud of your clinical research program?

Our clinical research team has done a wonderful job of weaving an awareness of clinical research into the culture of our center, primarily through personal interactions of the practitioners, nurses and research coordinators with the families and patients. We talk about the importance of clinical research during new patient education and stress research throughout the care experience. We provide constant visual reminders in pediatric and adult clinic areas, have a “Research Corner” article in our family newsletter, and have a research coordinator attend each CF clinic. Since introducing clinical research opportunities to our CF center in 2002, families have taken an active interest in participating in CF research, with more than 40% of our pediatric population having participated in one or more studies. We hope that our current CF research awareness campaign, including a recent mass mailing using the I Am the Key materials, will further broaden this support.

What are some challenges your center faces in conducting clinical research?

Travel distances remain our biggest impediment to recruitment, especially in visit-intensive studies. The recent economic challenges have even made it difficult even for less intensive studies. One strategy that has helped with this is pre-recruitment before a study visit so that an initial study visit can be done in conjunction with a clinical visit.

Have you benefitted from any clinical research QI activities?

While not a formal QI project, we are constantly working on more efficient ways to integrate our clinical care and research recruitment; i.e. how to see patients to recruit and evaluate for studies while not slowing down care delivery in the outpatient setting. One strategy that seems to be working is integrating the research team into our clinical planning meetings. During the meeting, all the patients to be seen at the next session are screened for eligibility criteria for all current studies. If they appear eligible, then this is verified with the caregiver most familiar with the patient. In clinic, the patients are approached by the physician or research coordinator as appropriate. This personal and directed approach seems to be very helpful in getting participation. Often we schedule a study visit right out of clinic.

What other CF research-related activities are your team members involved in?

Dr. Jamie Wooldridge has been a member of the TDN Protocol Review committee since 2004, first representing Cincinnati and now our center. Vikki Kociela is involved in the CF Research Coordinator Mentoring Program and many years ago was chair of the TDN Research Coordinator Committee (no longer operational).

What does the future hold for clinical research at your center?

Our Clinical Trials Unit has been steadily growing over the last 10 years. Stable funding from the Department of Pediatrics and a number of projects across the board have allowed for increasing sophistication, scope and availability of resources. Our faculty is committed to research and new faculty has brought us experience and energy. We are always striving to have the most current research updates available for our patients and are excited to be a new TDN team!

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