Thomas Jefferson University’s Exact Sciences GI Research Internships
Overview: Ideal candidates are college graduates, or pursuing or having completed advanced degrees (MPH, post-baccalaureate, etc.), interested in clinical research and a career in health science. In addition to research, there is an emphasis on mentorship, shadowing, and participation in a wide variety of GI and institutional conferences.
Background: The internship is housed within the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, recognized nationally for clinical excellence, at Thomas Jefferson University. Jefferson’s more than 30 full time faculty, many national leaders, treat the full spectrum of GI and Liver disorders. Within GI there are many specialized Centers including Liver Tumor, Barrett’s, Colon Polyps, Direct Access Colon Cancer Screening, GI Bleeding, Fatty Liver/NASH, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease to name a few.
The GI division has a robust research program and at any time typically has over 20 funded, and numerous additional unfunded, studies. Protocols cover a wide spectrum of disease. Some examples:
- Luminal GI: Colon cancer, colon cancer prevention, colon polyp and cancer detection, quality, new technologies, Barrett’s surveillance/treatment, esophageal cancer detection, achalasia, celiac disease, IBD (treatment/health maintenance/cancer prevention/quality)
- Advanced endoscopy: Pancreaticobiliary cancer detection/treatment/management, ESD, new endoscopic imaging/technologies/other tools, obesity, reflux, POEM, complicated pancreatitis
- Liver: NASH, hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatitis B & C, hepatic encephalopathy, liver failure
Details: The internship is 10 months, ~ 1 day/week. Two interns alternate between functioning as a research coordinator and engaging in original research. Interns have ample opportunity for shadowing and conference attendance and participation. David Kastenberg, MD, will oversee the program. Interns each have physician research mentors. Interns also have a research coordinator mentor, Cynthia Miller, RN, who has > 15 years’ experience as chief coordinator in the GI Division.
In the coordinator role, interns receive training and participate in all coordinator activities including those related to the IRB (application, amendment, update, renewal, safety reporting and other interactions); patient consent; regulatory compliance; data collection and organization; safety; auditing; initiation and site visits; and much more.
Under the guidance of the research mentor, interns experience deep involvement in clinical research. This includes the full spectrum of clinical research activities such as grant application, protocol creation, IRB application, patient consent, compliance, study oversight and investigator responsibility, data collection/analysis/interpretation, abstract and manuscript preparation, and presentations.
Funding and Relevance: Funding details available in May, 2021. This research internship provides:
- Research opportunities covering a broad spectrum within gastroenterology and hepatology
- Understanding and appreciation of the collaborative role of coordinator in clinical research
- Mentoring, shadowing, and other clinical experiences
- Additional education opportunities through a vast array of lectures and conferences
“When I first started as a clinical research intern in the GI Division, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. I had done countless hours of bench research, but had never really been involved in clinical research. Within a few weeks of meeting my mentors (Dr. Civan and Dr. Tholey) we were reviewing topics of interest, discussing previously published relevant studies and crafting our own project for me to work on. It would eventually turn into an online survey that we sent out to 1,000 Jefferson Liver Disease patients in order to better understand their experience with Telemedicine appointments. Our hopes were to better understand which patients most prefer telemedicine, why they prefer it and to identify any potential barriers to care (WiFi access, discomfort with tech, etc) that may exist with telemedicine appointments.
In addition to that project, I got involved in several other studies that were already underway. I provided data support for projects, helped out with chart review for certain retrospective studies, met with and helped patients when they would come into the research office, had some experience in learning to read images and so much more. My favorite part about this experience was how it was very self-determined. My mentors, Dr. Kastenberg and the research coordinators gave me so many opportunities for me to get involved with different studies, engage different interests, see a ton of fascinating procedures and dramatically expand my exposure to the world of clinical research.
I'm extremely grateful for this internship and for the people behind it. As I prepare to begin medical school, I know with absolute certainty that I want to continue to be involved in clinical research both during, and hopefully after, medical school.”
— Zach Breslin, Intern 2020-2021