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Tampa General Hospital, USF Health Announce Joint Office of Clinical Research to Build Upon Research Excellence

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Tampa General Hospital and USF Health announced the creation of a joint TGH-USF Health Office of Clinical Research to strengthen and expand current jointly conducted clinical trials, including translational studies that bridge laboratory discoveries and benefit patient care.

Both organizations are working to create Florida's leading academic medical center dedicated to outstanding patient care, education and research. The restructuring will allow TGH and USF Health to combine resources and work together more seamlessly to initiate, operate and coordinate clinical trials looking at new ways to prevent, detect and treat disease.

"We already have established and invested in a strong foundation for clinical research," said Tampa General President and CEO John Couris. "Combining the efforts of TGH and USF Health is the next step to elevate the world-class research we do to push forward to the edge of scientific discovery."

"The joint office will allow for expansion of that portion of our clinical research portfolio occurring at TGH and to conduct that research with greater efficiency," said Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.  "A robust research portfolio is a core component of all academic medical centers – and clinical trials are an essential part of what we do to advance the science leading to evidence-based health care. We expect this joint office to streamline the clinical trial process, thereby providing greater opportunities for both hospitalized patients and outpatients to participate in leading studies investigating new treatments."

The joint TGH-USF Health Clinical Research Office will build upon the success over the last seven months of researchers and research staff at both institutions working to collaboratively launch about 35 COVID-19 clinical trials investigating a range of diagnostics, antiviral and anti-inflammatory medications, treatment protocols, vaccines and surveillance registries. Several, such as the joint studies testing Regeneron's combination monoclonal antibody therapy in sick people or those exposed to the virus, are part of larger national clinical trials.

Including those COVID trials, TGH and USF Health now are working together on about 350 research studies. In July, TGH and the University of South Florida signed a new clinical affiliation to further solidify one of the largest academic medical centers in Florida and build upon their longstanding relationship and commitment to improving health care in Tampa Bay.

This move to better align joint clinical research includes new leadership appointments:

  • Clifton Gooch, MD, and Abraham Schwarzberg, MD, were named as co-vice presidents of Clinical Trials and Translational Research for the joint office. Dr. Gooch is professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Tampa General Hospital Endowed Chair in Neurology. Schwarzberg is senior vice president of network development and chief of Oncology at TGH.
  • Following a national search, Rachel Karlnoski, PhD, director of clinical research operations for USF Health, was selected to fill the new role of executive director of research.  Karlnoski will report to Gooch and Schwarzberg for the oversight of all clinical studies involving both USF Health and Tampa General Hospital. She retains the position directing clinical research operations for USF Health, which she had held since 2018. For all USF Health trials except those based at TGH, Karlnoski continues reporting to Stephen Liggett, MD, vice dean for research at USF Health.

The administrative research changes will not affect USF Health's participation in clinical studies with Moffitt Cancer Center, James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital or other community and academic partners. Nor will the changes affect TGH's partnership in clinical studies with Moffitt Cancer Center, TeamHealth, the Florida Orthopedic Institute, or other private practice physician partners.

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