NIH Clinical Center

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Strengthening support for clinical research

Clinical Center departments facilitate the biomedical research of their colleagues
in institute or center intramural programs. They also continue to be recognized for their own scientific accomplishments.

Imaging sciences With implementation in 2004 of the upgraded PACS (Picture Archival and Communication System) web system, clinical investigators can now access imaging data from the past 5 years, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, using computers connected to the Clinical Center intranet. PACSweb software allows investigators to control the display of images, compare imaging studies performed at different times, access dictated reports, review patient data, and then use the images for research and teaching purposes.

Renovations in the radiology department’s waiting room and ultrasound area were completed in 2004 and it is hoped that renovations in general radiology and most of the renovations in interventional radiology will be completed in early 2005. In 2006 most of the renovations for the new magnetic resonance imaging suites and for the new reading rooms and digital film library are also scheduled for completion.

A new high-resolution research tomograph (HRRT) PET scanner was installed, which permits high-resolution PET brain studies. The number of radiochemistry hot cells will be expanded, making it possible to increase the variety of radiopharmaceuticals used for PET studies in clinical research protocols.

Laboratory medicine The Department of Laboratory Medicine is developing a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory in microbiology to ensure preparedness for dealing with emerging highly contagious infectious agents (such as SARS) and with agents of bioterrorism. DLM has also implemented a new cutting-edge mass spectrometry technology to assay sirolimus and tacrolimus, critical immunosuppressive drugs used by the solid organ transplant program.

Transfusion medicine In the Department of Transfusion Medicine, Drs. Susan Leitman and Charles Bolan conducted clinical trials to establish safer and more effective ways of collecting (by apheresis) blood progenitor cells in support of patients needing bone marrow transplants. Dr. Bolan, a visiting scientist from the Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General, has worked in DTM for six years. The procedure Drs. Leitman and Bolan developed is safer and also collects twice the number of hematopoietic stem cells from donors for bone marrow transplant protocols. The procedure — adopted by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) — has decreased the number of visits a patient requires, increased the efficiency of scheduling, reduced costs, and improved service.

Pharmacy The pharmaceutical development section of the pharmacy department formulated a preservative-free steroid injection for the eye. A commercially available product (Kenalog) contains preservatives that produce undesirable side effects, and community ophthamologists have nothing else to use. The pharmaceutical development staff worked with the National Eye Institute to formulate a preservative- free injection.

A major initiative in 2004 has been the redesigning of outpatient services.

Outpatient clinics. Based on current usage and scheduling practices, there are not enough exam rooms to meet the increasing demand for clinic space. When the Hatfield Center begins taking patients, some of the current occupants of the Ambulatory Care Research Facility will relocate to the new hospital. Freeing up that space in the ACRF provides a good opportunity to analyze current scheduling practices, the use and configuration of space, and patient flow in the clinics. As clinic space is reorganized and reallocated, the Clinical Center and the institutes have a unique opportunity to evaluate the way outpatient care is provided. A proposal for realignment of the outpatient clinics has been proposed. Next step: Develop an implementation plan in 2005.

Renovation of outpatient surgery. The current Clinical Center surgical suite was designed before outpatient surgery became standard practice. In 2004 a study was done to determine if it was feasible to renovate the area and provide modern services to help accommodate the growing number of outpatient operations. If possible, design for a new outpatient surgery facility will begin in 2005.

To complement the growing outpatient surgery program and to improve inpatient surgery, a new pre-anesthesia clinic (PAC) opened in the Department of Anesthesia and Surgical Services in 2004.

James Vucich is project manager for PACS.
James Vucich is project manager for PACS.
Dr. Patrick Murray, chief of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratories.
Dr. Patrick Murray, chief of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratories, led development of the Biosafety Level 3 laboratory, so that the Department of Laboratory Medicine could safely process specimens from patients with highly infectious diseases.
Healthy volunteer Richard Haddon donating blood progenitor cells by apheresis.
Healthy volunteer Richard Haddon donating blood progenitor cells by apheresis, in support of an unrelated patient who needs a stem cell transplant. Through the NIH Marrow and Apheresis Donor Center (part of DTM), Haddon is participating in the National Marrow Donor Program.
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