Daniel Cunningham graduated from Duke School of Medicine in 2017; he is a current Resident and also a 2017 CRTP Alumus. He is part of the CRTP – Duke CTSA (NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award) Cohort, a unique program that allows third year medical students at Duke to pursue either the full Masters Degree or a Clinical Research ‘Core’ certificate while they concurrently pursue their medical degree. Thus far, CRTP has awarded 28 medical students with the Masters degree and conferred 73 students with the core certificate. The CTSA is the NIH’s largest single investment in biomedical research with awards given to institutions to create academic homes for translational research. Duke uses the CTSA funds to provide resources such as biostatistical and regulatory expertise, funding to move ideas from the laboratory through early-phase clinical trials, project management support, data sharing and informatics tools, and education for current and future translational medicine researchers.
As with the majority (86%) of our graduates, Daniel plans to a career in academic medicine. The CRTP research project afforded a sample of the type research he plans to continue to conduct in the future. “I had the opportunity to prospectively evaluate the impact of patient and operative factors on recovery after hip arthroscopy performed for symptomatic femoracetabular impingement, a condition that commonly causes hip pain in young, athletic patients. Among other findings, we were surprised to discover the dichotomy in opioid usage between patients with and without pre-operaitve opioid use. Patients with pre-operative opioid use consumed four times the amount of opioids post-operatively as patients without any pre-operative opioid use. This finding has encouraged more tailored post-operative opioid prescriptions to avoid opioid overprescribing.” Dr. Cunningham’s other research efforts have included evaluating factors associated with failure of treatment for periprosthetic hip infection, examining the impact of patient and operative factors on patient-reported outcomes after total ankle arthroplasty, and determining cost-effectiveness of incorporating advanced imaging in diagnosis of symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement syndrome.
“The Clinical Research Training Program provided me with a foundation for a potential career in academic orthopaedic surgery. I feel comfortable with the basics of study design, statistics, ethics, and regulatory practices that are critical in understanding and advancing clinical and translational research. This has allowed me to complete projects from start to finish without the need for substantial outside support, which dramatically speeds the process of clinical research. Additionally, the program connected me with a group of similarly-minded young clinicians, which was invaluable for personal and professional development. Lastly, the program helped me to focus on taking a single moderate-size clinical research project from conception to publication during the program time frame while also completing other side projects. This was an important, real-world experience that prepared me to anticipate roadblocks in future projects and to balance research productivity efforts.”