NIH selects Clemson student for innovative program
CLEMSON — George Fercana of Greenville, a doctoral student in Clemson University’s bioengineering department, was one of 27 students around the country selected to participate in an innovative new program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center located in Bethesda, Md.
The Clinical and Translational Research for Ph.D. Students program is designed to highlight the collaborative process of translating basic research into practical clinical applications. The program encourages future scientists to consider a career in clinical or translational research.
“The NIH is the largest funding agency in the U.S. for biomedical research,” said Fercana, a native of Florence. “Understanding clinical and translational research from the perspective of the NIH is important for my development as a scientist, especially since my future career may involve my participation in clinical trials.”
This free, two-week program took place at the nation’s research hospital, known for the first use of chemotherapy to treat cancer and first use of zidovudine (AZT) to treat AIDS.
“A primary goal of this program was to highlight Ph.D. scientists conducting clinical and translational research at the NIH,” said Dr. Juan Lertora, faculty lead for the program. “This group of students was highly motivated and took advantage of this opportunity while also going through a formal didactic curriculum that introduced them to the ethical and scientific principles that guide research in human subjects.”
During the program, participants:
- met with clinician investigators and heard Ph.D. translational investigators present their research;
- participated in a mock institutional review board;
- learned the process of filing an investigational new drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and
- received tutorials on training and funding opportunities.
“This program taught me how to design robust studies and critically analyze the outcomes and implications of existing studies,” Fercana said. “I also had the invaluable opportunity to discuss the research performed at Clemson under the supervision and mentoring of Dan Simionescu, associate professor in Clemson’s department of bioengineering, with investigators at the Clinical Center and use their insights to help improve my studies here at Clemson University.”
— Peyton Bullard