About the Program

This program, based out of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is a collaborative effort of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and the Johns Hopkins University Center for BioEngineering Innovation & Design.  Funding for the PCRTP is provided by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) through a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) funded Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA).
Clinical research, the systematic research undertaken to evaluate methods of treating, preventing, or diagnosing disease in humans, is evolving rapidly and requires an increasingly sophisticated knowledge base, early acquisition of advanced skills, and more collaboration among disciplines.

The Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program provides exposure to and training in clinical research for predoctoral trainees during their early professional development, specially tailored to their degree of interest and commitment.

The program builds on a strong foundation of interest and expertise in training in patient-oriented research at Johns Hopkins. The center brings trainees together with clinical researchers, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, behavioral scientists, molecular scientists, clinical specialists, and engineers to address a wide variety of important scientific challenges. Trainees have an opportunity to become part of specialized research teams, collaborating across the Hopkins institutions, and with colleagues across the U.S.

The Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program provides all trainees with core knowledge, attitudes, and skills for lifelong interest in participation in clinical research studies, intended to stimulate and maintain interest in a clinical research career during their medical school and post-graduate training. Trainees receive intensive and hands-on learning experiences that prepare them to be exemplary clinical researchers (in any discipline, specialty, or subspecialty) and teachers of clinical research. Finally, the program increases the diversity of trainees and, ultimately, of the academic faculty participating in clinical research.

In this unique predoctoral approach to clinical research training, the program helps to focus and prepare young scholars for careers in clinical research, ideally lessening the gap between biomedical discovery and implementation of new therapies to improve health.

The mission of the Johns Hopkins Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program is to:

  •  Provide students with a more intensive long-term learning experience that prepares them to be exemplary clinical researchers and teachers of clinical research (combined master anddoctoral degrees with MD or nursing degree).
  • Provide clinical research experiences for  predoctoral trainees that will stimulate and maintain their interest in a clinical research career during their medical school training and post-graduate training.
  • Enhance curriculum at Johns Hopkins to provide all predoctoral trainees with core knowledge, attitudes and skills for lifelong interest in participation in clinical research studies.

Our 3-part Definition of Clinical Research

(a) Patient-oriented research. Research that is conducted with human subjects and  involves material of human origin (such as tissues, specimens and cognitive phenomena) for which an investigator (or colleague) directly interacts with human subjects in an outpatient or inpatient setting to clarify a problem in human physiology, pathophysiology or disease. This area of research includes:

  • Mechanisms of human disease (e.g. role of inflammation in development of diabetes)
  • Therapeutic interventions (e.g. comparison of techniques of home hemodialysis for ESRD)
  • Clinical trials (e.g. randomized trial of different surgical procedures for spinal stenosis)
  • Development of new technologies (e.g. role of epigenetic markers in colon cancer)

(b) Epidemiologic and behavioral studies. Studies that deal with the causes, distribution, and control of disease in populations; and research in which the actions and reactions of humans (e.g. patients or health care providers) in response to external and internal stimuli are studied through observational and experimental methods. Examples of this kind of research include:

  • Studies of biological, psychological or social risk factors for acquiring a disease or for disease progression (e.g., quantifying the risk of lung cancer among smokers; the risk of obesity among individuals who are sedentary; the risk of heart disease among individuals with depression; the risk of mental illness among individuals exposed to violence or trauma)
  • Studies of the impact of behavioral interventions on the risk of developing a disease or its complications (e.g., the impact of dietary or physical activity interventions on the development of high blood pressure or diabetes in a group of research subjects)

(c) Outcomes research and health services research. A multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that examines how people get access to health care, how much care costs, and what happens to patients as a result of this care. For clinicians and patients, outcomes research provides evidence about benefits, risks, and results of treatments so they can make more informed decisions. For health care managers and purchasers, outcomes research can identify potentially effective strategies they can implement to improve the quality and value of care. Outcomes research seeks to understand the end results of particular health care practices and interventions. These end results may include mortality, physiologic measures, clinical events, equity of services, as well as effects that people experience and care about, such as symptoms, functional measures (quality of life), and patient experiences with care. Examples of outcomes and health services research include:

  • A study that develops a way for clinicians to determine which patients with pneumonia can be treated safely at home, an option that not only reduces Medicare costs but is preferred by many patients.
  • A study that identifies and addresses the barriers to better care for myocardial infarctions — for example, through development of a tool to help doctors know which patients with suspected heart attacks will benefit from thrombolytic treatment.
  • A study of the impact of a quality improvement program for depression on depression symptoms,functional status, and patient satisfaction with care.