The second annual Carilion Clinic Research Day took place at the Jefferson Center's Fitzpatrick Hall, Roanoke, Va., on Thursday May 20. After an introduction by Dr. Mark Werner, Chief Medical Officer at Carilion Clinic, Dr. Thomas M. Kerkering (Chief of Infectious Disease, Carilion Clinic; Professor of Medicine Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine), Dr. Kathy Dorey (Professor of Basic Sciences, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine), and Dr. Ina Hoeschele (Professor, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and Department of Statistics, Virginia Tech) gave seminars that highlighted how scientific, medical and computational innovation can deliver benefits to clinical research and practice. The speakers also outlined some of the many challenges that are being faced in integrated efforts to deliver the best possible patient-centric care. The presentations concluded with a keynote lecture from Dr. David Sane, Chief of Cardiology at Carilion Clinic, entitled: "Clinical practice, clinical research and basic research: an intricately woven thread."

Key take-away messages from Research Day talks:

Dr. Kerkering emphasized that Virginia Tech Carilion must continue to keep in mind the following as part of its development path:


  • The importance of National Institutes of Health-funded clinical grants



  • The Carilion database "goldmine" which can drive research and medical progress

  • The significance and availability of sound biostatistical resources

  • The initiation and maintenance of sample repositories

  • Resisting the dangers of "bureaucratic creep"

  • Dr. Hoeschele outlined a strategy that uses genetical systems biology to better understand human diseases and expand personalized medicine. In what is a daunting environment of ever-increasing amounts of biological data, she emphasized that computational and statistical tools and analysis will play a vital role in ensuring that the full potential of personalized medicine is realized. 


    Dr. Kathy Dorey described the significant progress that has been made in understanding how two specific dietary carotenoids that accumulate in the retina may help protect at-risk individuals from the burden of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that presently causes vision loss and blindness in more than 2 million elderly Americans. Researchers have started to unravel the molecular events that implicate blue light, damaging oxygen free radicals, and inflammatory responses in this debilitating disease of the eye.

    In his Keynote lecture, Dr. Sane discussed how clinical practice, clinical research, and basic research are closely interwoven in today’s medical landscape. Dr. Sane suggested that the goal of being “patient-centered” could be best accomplished in an environment of ongoing clinical and basic research. As an example, Sane cited pharmacogenomics, which permits a transition from current guideline-driven practice to patient-guided practice. “Tailoring drug therapy to the individual’s unique genetic makeup is the ultimate patient-centeredness”, said Sane. “On the other hand, having a patient-centered practice as the source of research ideas can help the clinical scientist maintain focus and be successful.” Using cardiopulmonary resuscitation as an example, Sane highlighted the fact that even the simplest clinical tools are often based upon a foundation of basic research. He went on to describe some of the historical research innovations that have made an impact on medicine over the years. “History shows that translation from basic research to clinical practice may be delayed”, said Sane “but no one could dispute the impact that discoveries like C-reactive protein, for example, have had on paving the way for the use of prognostic biomarkers, or the benefits to medicine of the application of research techniques such as polymerase chain reaction. It is this type of research progress that offers a real hope for the future in our efforts to deliver patient-centered care.”

    The Research Day concluded with the best poster award in the Resident category  to Dr. Jennifer Mihalik for her contribution entitled: “The use of contrast-enhanced ultrasound for evaluation of solid abdominal organ injury in a patient with blunt abdominal trauma,” and in the Faculty category to Dr. Al Philp for his project: “When is low molecular weight heparin safe after traumatic brain injury?” 

Published by Barry Whyte, May 21, 2010