It’s described by physicians and researchers as one of the most advanced clinical research units in the southeastern U.S. The new Frank and Marisa Martire Family Integrated Clinical Studies Unit (ICSU) recently opened at Mayo Clinic in Florida. The 12-bed unit, housed on the second floor of the Dorothy J. and Harry T. Mangurian Building, is dedicated to early-phase clinical research in all medical specialties.
“This is a place that offers patients hope where it may not otherwise exist,” says Charles Burger, M.D., medical director for the Clinical Research Office at Mayo Clinic in Florida. “Novel therapies can be tested through rigorous research in these studies that may be a last resort for patients who have tried all other possible options without success.”
Many of the ongoing studies in the ICSU involve early-phase, first-in-human trials, but all phases of clinical studies can be accommodated. Each patient room allows for medical procedures or infusions related to clinical trials. Rooms are also equipped with TVs for patient use, as visits may last up to eight hours. Patient monitoring is intense and frequent to ensure safety and monitor patients’ tolerance to study medications. Vital signs, blood tests and other medical tests can be taken about every half hour. Principal investigators are responsible for the research protocols, and a physician is always on hand to assist research staff if needed. A pharmacy is located on the same floor for convenience. The research pharmacy team works closely with the ICSU team to coordinate the preparation and delivery of novel therapies.
Additional space is in the ICSU is occupied by the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine’s Biospecimens Accessioning and Processing laboratories (BAP Lab) satellite location. This strategic build-out of the lab helps support the increased demand for clinical trials and services needed to expand them, and complements its other locations on Mayo's Florida campus.
“We are continuously researching and developing groundbreaking treatments, so that we can provide patients with answers, treatment options and optimism,” says Tushar Patel, M.B., Ch.B., dean for research at Mayo Clinic in Florida. “Research drives everything we do to advance patient care.”
James Foran, M.D., a hematology oncology specialist, is conducting around 20 cancer clinical studies in the ICSU, ranging from novel molecular-targeted medicines and new immune-based therapies, to new anti-cancer drugs with unique methods of action. “Medicine is changing so rapidly that we need to be able to investigate current and future therapies in the most advanced setting,” says Dr. Foran. “The new clinical studies unit creates synergy with the practice, integrating care with research. It allows us to expand our capabilities in the types of therapies we can bring to patients.”
Dr. Foran believes the state-of-the art ICSU improves the patient experience. With everything that patients need for highly controlled clinical studies all in one place, including real-time testing and monitoring, “Patients know where their home is,” he says. “It’s a dedicated home.”
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