Methodological help can be in short supply when preparing a grant application. To help young investigators develop valid and robust methods for their research plan, the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Science Institute (NUCATS) offers investigators the opportunity to present their research projects at a Clinical and Translational Research Incubator Seminar (CTRIS). This service utilizes an interdisciplinary team of scientists (including MD and PhD epidemiologists, senior biostatisticians, content experts, and mentors) to develop the very best research methods for investigators' specific proposed projects.

Rahul Khare, MD, MSCI, a Northwestern University Assistant Professor in the Depart\xADment of Emergency Medicine and Institute for Healthcare Studies, was preparing for a K-award submission focusing on emergency medicine quality measures for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Dr. Khare's proposed research project postulated that high quality emergency care and patient outcomes involve efficient operations and standardized quality management approaches. Variation in both operations and quality management may explain, in part, why similar hospitals (such as size and location) vary so dra\xADmatically on quality indicator scores and death rates.

To strengthen Dr. Khare's application, the CTRIS process brought together experts from several from several fields, including some of Khare's mentors, to provide highly specialized and detailed methodological recommendations during the real-time research project review. For example, Dr. Khare received specific recommendations regarding study design and statistical analyses, including a complex power calculation to en\xADsure quantitative validity. "The only way to successfully look at emergency medicine outcomes is with the support and insights from other depart\xADments-it's the nature of what we do," said Dr. Khare. "To apply this thinking to the grant was a big help, especially in translat\xADing my specialty into more general terms."

The major advantage of the CTRIS method is its team science synergistic approach that provides investigators with interdisciplinary consensus recommendations and corroborating guidance (as opposed to fragmented and potentially conflicting recommendations that junior investigators often receive with the more conventional one to one separate interactions with epidemiologists, biostatisticians, and mentors). For Dr. Khare, the process was a huge success - his grant proposal application was funded on its very first submission!

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