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Q and A with Dr. Robert Califf About Innovations in Clinical Research

January 28, 2014
NCCAM Blog Team

On December 16, NCCAM was delighted to host Robert M. Califf, M.D., who presented the 2013 Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture in the Science of Complementary Health Therapies, “A New Fabric for Clinical Research: Application to the Pain Problem.” 

Dr. Califf is vice chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research, director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, and professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, North Carolina. He is also co-chair of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative, a public-private partnership focused on improving the clinical trials system, and co-principal investigator of the coordinating center for the new National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet) funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

In his lecture, Dr. Califf shared many insights about ways to transform the clinical trials enterprise—including for greater rapidity, efficiency, integration of information, use of networks (e.g., of health systems, providers, patients, and researchers) and deployment of cutting-edge technology such as social media and geospatial mapping.  On chronic pain, his points included the limitations and hazards of using opioids; the case for exploring other therapeutic options, including from complementary health; and the need for researchers to work together as they address the complex problem of pain.

Dr. Straus, for whom this lecture series is named, was NCCAM's founding director. During his tenure, he strengthened the capacity, both at NIH and nationally, to do high-quality, rigorous research meeting the standards of science for which NIH is known, with a focus on the efficacy and safety of complementary health practices.

After the lecture, Dr. Califf spoke with the NCCAM Blog Team to talk about electronic health records, NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory, and PCORnet.

Watch the Q and A  here:


View the full lecture: “A New Fabric for Clinical Research: Application to the Pain Problem”


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  • Fascinating research.

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