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Describe your role in the Clinical Research Unit and why you became a part of MCIRCC.

As manager of the Clinical Research Unit, I oversee a team of wonderful coordinators who recruit and consent patients for MCIRCC members. I also help prepare budgets and protocols, fill out and maintain IRB applications, and meet with sponsors and investigators to make sure their needs are being met and all regulatory requirements are being followed. Luckily I still also get to do some recruiting and testing of our devices myself as well. I joined MCIRCC because I was interested in working with emergency patients. Being a part of emergency medicine is exciting and different every day. I saw that Dr. Ward and MCIRCC were doing great things and I knew this would be a great opportunity.

What are some challenges you’ve encountered in your role as Clinical Research Unit Manager?

I think that the biggest challenge has been helping to carve out the MCIRCC niche within the other groups doing research in the hospital. Since we don’t want to burden patients with multiple coordinators approaching them for different studies, it has been challenging to find our place in the hierarchy. Now that we are established, our team has a great working relationship with the nurses and doctors which helps, and the teams now use research notes to allow other teams to know who has already been enrolled in research.

Since managing the Clinical Research Unit, what has been your biggest, personal accomplishment?

I always feel great when we exceed our milestones but I would say that the biggest personal accomplishment was when I was approached by an industry sponsor to run a study here at U-M for them. Usually industry looks for a principal investigator but they were impressed with another study that I ran for them so they approached me personally. 

What would you like others to understand about the importance of the work that the Unit does?

Hiring a coordinator and training them is expensive and time consuming. The Clinical Research Unit provides this service so investigators don’t have to. We also have experience with writing IRB applications and many approved that we can pull language from that have already been approved. Working from scratch can certainly delay the approval process. Also, I’ve been told that our recruitment success is one of the highest if not the highest in the health system. 

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Word is that you have a flock of some unique pets. Can you share a little about your Angora goats and what led to your interest in raising them? 

My son wanted to have an animal that he could milk. He didn’t have the attention span to milk a cow or even a dairy goat, and I had grown up with a friend that had angora goats so I thought that would be perfect for him. He could milk them if he wanted but they don’t produce a lot of milk so if he didn’t milk them they wouldn’t be uncomfortable. Also, as a 4-H project, they are one of the few animals that gets to come home with you after the fair. We started with 2 – a neutered boy and a girl. He competes in “Pack goat” which is an agility course but for goats, and it’s so much fun to watch that I wanted to be involved as well. I got my first goat a few months later and soon I had sold all of my horses and gotten goats instead. We now have about 40 and by the time you read this I will be in the middle of kidding season. My son still shows in 4-H in Monroe County and I show at the national shows, traveling to Colorado, Texas, Iowa, Virginia, and New York.