Clinical Research Units

Dedicated clinical research units (CRUs) for conduct of clinical studies

The mission of the CCTS CRUs is to facilitate clinical research by providing investigators with specialized facilities, personnel, and advice. Investigators from CCTS institutions (UTHealth, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Memorial Hermann Hospital System) can use any of the CCTS CRUs, depending on the location of their patients and the availability of services at the CRUs. (Investigators without faculty appointments at UTHealth or M. D. Anderson should apply for CCTS membership (see Who Can Use the CCTS). For assistance designing and implementing clinical studies at the UTHealth CRU at Memorial Hermann—Texas Medical Center, please also see the SPARK program.

UTHealth CRU at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center

Memorial Hermann Hospital 

Director: Miguel Escobar, MD Miguel.Escobar@uth.tmc.edu 

Co-Director: John Foringer, MD John.R.Foringer@uth.tmc.edu 

Operations Director: Kathy Franco, RN, BSN, CCRC Kathy.D.Franco@uth.tmc.edu 

Assistant Nurse Manager: Theresa Dancsak, RN, MSN Theresa.Dancsak@uth.tmc.edu 

Sr. Administrative Manager: Cristina Dyke, BA Myriam.C.Dyke@uth.tmc.edu 

Lab Management: Kayla Ruch, BS Kayla.Ruch@uth.tmc.edu 

CRU 713-704-4147

The UTHealth CRU at Memorial Hermann - Texas Medical Center began as the UTHealth General Clinical Research Center in 1986. The UTHealth CRU at Memorial Hermann - Texas Medical Center offers UT researchers an optimal on-campus resource and expanded capabilities for conducting clinical investigations and serves as an environment for training health professionals in clinical research. The CRU, located on the 3rd floor of the Robertson Pavilion in Memorial Hermann Hospital, is devoted entirely to the implementation and conduction of clinical research.

The UTHealth CRU team consists of 7 clinical research nurses with a variety of clinical backgrounds, 3 experienced study coordinators, 2 lab specialists, and 3 administrators. All staff members, most of whom are cross-trained with coordinating and lab experience, work closely together to offer expertise and deliver the best clinical research support to the UTHealth and Memorial Hermann research community.

The CRU provides access to specialty core services such as:

  • 6 outpatient and 4 inpatient rooms
  • Scheduling diagnostic tests and procedures
  • A chart room and a physician charting area
  • Consulting support in early stages of protocol development
  • In-patient and out-patient clinic space
  • Nursing and coordinator services
  • Regulatory monitoring
  • Lab services including cell reconstruction and nitrogen storage
  • Research training
  • CRU staff who can be sent to clinical areas in the hospital such as the ICUs, ER, ORs, clinical units, ambulatory clinics, and diagnostic facilities such as imaging suites
  • Administrative services, including budget development, parking validation, meal tickets, and petty cash services. Fees vary based upon protocol needs.

To use this CRU, investigators must complete the UTHSC-H iRIS/CCTS application.

Click here to access the CRU Budget Template. Once you have completed the template, please save and send along with your protocol to Kathy.D.Franco@uth.tmc.edu 

  • Hyperthermia with nurse at MHH CRU
  • MHH CRU reopens, photo of room
  • MHH CRU reopens, exam room

Brownsville, Texas, CRU

The University of Texas at BrownsvilleDirector: Joseph McCormick, MD
Medical Director: Rose Zavaletta Gowen, MD
Nursing Clinical Supervisor: Anne Renfro, MSN, RN
Contact Person: Christina Villarreal Christina.Villarreal@uth.tmc.edu (956-882-6677)

Since 2004, the Brownsville CRU has been an integral part of the UTHealth General Clinical Research Center, which is now part of the CCTS. The unit is affiliated with The University of Texas School of Public Health (SPH) Brownsville Regional Campus and its Hispanic Health Research Center which focuses on diseases that are common in Hispanic populations. Brownsville is part of Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley, which is more than 86% Hispanic and has a high incidence of chronic degenerative diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and coronary disease. The area also has severe health disparities and a high proportion of uninsured and indigent inhabitants. Through their programs, the SPH Brownsville Regional Campus, the Hispanic Health Research Center, and the Brownsville CRU hope to improve the health of the local community.

To conduct clinical research in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the Brownsville CRU uses a unique team approach tailored to the local community. CRU investigators support the use of promotoras, who are Spanish-speaking community health workers who assist in subject recruitment and are trained in human subject protection and the intricacies of the studies on which they are working. The promotoras work in various settings in the community to identify potential subjects for clinical studies.

The University of Texas School of Public Health Regional Academic Health Center

The Brownsville CCTS CRU is situated in Brownsville, TX, less than a mile from the U.S./Mexico border. It is located at the Valley Baptist Brownsville Medical Center, close to the UT School of Public Health Regional Campus (RAHC)(shown above), which is located on the host campus of UT-Brownsville. The local population is about 95% Mexican American.

Map - locating Brownsville, Texas, U.S.A.

 

The Brownsville CRU is in the Professional Building of the Valley Baptist Hospital-Brownsville, adjacent to the main hospital buildings. The CRU facility is open Monday through Friday during business hours and is staffed by a nurse, a medical technologist, and a business manager. The unit is 2,382 sq. ft., all dedicated for outpatient services, and includes a waiting room, 4 examination rooms, a laboratory area for sample processing and storage, an area for charting by staff and investigators, office space for patient scheduling and follow-up, and an interview/conference room for long patient interviews, staff in-services, and investigator meetings.

The Brownsville CRU encourages inquiries from investigators who wish to conduct their own studies in its Hispanic community or to participate in ongoing studies in the CRU. The following ongoing studies in the CRU are open to other investigators:

  1. Cameron County Hispanic cohort.
    This is a cohort of 2500 randomly selected individuals in the community. There is extensive socioeconomic, family history, and clinical data (including mental health data) on the subjects. Biological specimens have been collected for metabolic, genetic, molecular, and immunological assessment. This cohort is available for studies ranging from epidemiological studies of prevalence, clinical aspects, and basic mechanisms of disease in Mexican-American populations to evaluation of intervention strategies (including vaccines) to behavior modification.
  2. Early onset of diabetes cohort.
    This is a cohort of more than 50 patients who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes before the age of 30 (including 23 diagnosed at 18 or younger) and their immediate family members. This cohort is available for behavioral, genetic, clinical, and epidemiological studies of early-onset type 2 diabetes.
  3. School studies.
    Several programs in local schools focus on obesity, insulin resistance, and obesity and diabetes prevention.
  4. Tu Salud, Si Cuenta!
    This is community outreach program uses behavioral journalism to transmit messages to the community by TV, radio, and newspapers. It is extensively evaluated and is supported by a network of promotoras.
  5. Tuberculosis and diabetes.
    This is an extensive field and laboratory program that includes a number of studies. Patients with tuberculosis are being recruited in three busy clinics, two in Texas and one in Matamoros, Mexico. Epidemiological, sociodemographic, and medical histories are collected. Biological specimens are taken for molecular and immunological studies to elucidate the immunological mechanisms that make diabetes patients particularly susceptible to tuberculosis. Patients are followed throughout treatment.
  6. Cervical cancer studies.
    In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the rates of cervical cancer are among the highest in the United States, and patients are being seen at increasingly young ages, even in their teens. Retrospective and prospective studies are under way to characterize the epidemiology of cervical dysplasia in this community and to determine whether, as is suspected, poor control of glucose metabolism contributes to the high rate of cervical cancer. Planned studies include testing of a new HPV vaccine (in conjunction with the Memorial Hermann CCTS CRU and Baylor College of Medicine) and studies of treatment of gestational diabetes, a major complication of pregnancy in this population.
Brownsville CRU staff photos

For more information on these studies, on conducting other studies in the Brownsville CRU, or on the Brownsville CRU in general, see http://www.hhrc.info/ or contact Christina Villarreal (Christina.Villarreal@uth.tmc.edu) 956-882-6677. To use the Brownsville CRU, investigators must complete the UTHealth iRIS/CCTS application UTHealth iRIS/CCTS application.

UT M D Anderson Cancer Center CRU

Director: Daniel D. Karp, MD
Contact person: Dina Harleaux, MSN, RN, CCRP (dmharlea@mdanderson.org) 713-563-0445

The M. D. Anderson CRU is a 6,500 sq. ft., 15-room (16-bed) outpatient unit dedicated to innovative clinical research and new drug development. The unit began operations in 2002 and is located on the 10th floor of M. D. Anderson’s Clark Clinic Building. The unit provides sophisticated nursing care; phlebotomy services for pharmacokinetic studies; pharmacy services; a laboratory for specimen collection, preparation, and storage; and administration of therapy for clinical research studies. Assistance with development of clinical protocols and their budgets is also available. The unit is open 24 hours a day Monday through Friday and by appointment on weekends. The unit gives priority to Phase I and Phase II studies, but other studies can be conducted in the unit.

UTHealth CRU at Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) Hospital, Houston, Texas

Director: John Foringer, MD John.R.Foringer@uth.tmc.edu 

Co-Director: Miguel Escobar, MD Miguel.Escobar@uth.tmc.edu 

Operations Director: Kathy Franco, RN, BSN, CCRC Kathy.D.Franco@uth.tmc.edu 

Community Engagement Director: Ruby Benjamin-Garner, MPH, PhD Ruby.A.Benjamin-Garner@uth.tmc.edu 

Nurse Manager: Theresa Dancsak, RN, MSN Theresa.Dancsak@uth.tmc.edu 

Sr. Administrative Manager: Cristina Dyke, BA Myriam.C.Dyke@uth.tmc.edu 

Research Nurse: Estela Acosta, BSN Estela.A.Acosta@uth.tmc.edu 

Lab Management: Kayla Ruch, BS Kayla.Ruch@uth.tmc.edu 

CRU 713-566-4662, 713-566-4258 or UTHealth CRU 713-704-4137

The UT LBJ CRU at Lyndon Baines Johnson Hospital began in 2013 as a service to help investigators design and implement protocols and a liaison for working with the community to understand its research needs. Today, the UT LBJ CRU offers researchers resources for conducting clinical investigations and training for health professionals in clinical research. The purposes of the LBJ CRU are to facilitate collaborative research among UTHealth and M. D. Anderson investigators with LBJ clinicians and investigators, to increase research capacity and productivity among LBJ clinicians, and to increase access to cutting-edge research for a patient population that is historically underrepresented in clinical trials. The partner institutions, Harris Health System, UTHealth, and M. D. Anderson, work together to identify and lower barriers to research in this indigent health care environment.

The CRU office is located in the UT Annex room 116 and is devoted entirely to the implementation and conduction of clinical research throughout LBJ clinics, hospital, and community outreach clinics.

The CRU team consists of 1 clinical research nurse with a broad clinical background and 1 experienced study coordinator. The UTHealth CRU backs up the UT LBJ unit with nurses, coordinators, lab specialists, and administrators. All staff members, most of whom are cross-trained with coordinating and lab experience, work closely together to offer expertise and deliver the best clinical research support to the UTHealth and LBJ research community.

The CRU provides access to specialty core services such as:

  • Scheduling of diagnostic tests and procedures
  • Consulting support in early stages of protocol development
  • Out-patient clinic space
  • Nursing and coordinator services
  • Regulatory monitoring
  • Vital sign machines and ECG testing
  • Lab services including cell reconstruction and nitrogen storage (at UTHealth)
  • Research training for physician and staff
  • CRU staff who can be sent to clinical areas in the hospital such as the ICUs, ER, ORs, clinical units, ambulatory clinics, and diagnostic facilities such as imaging suites
  • Administrative services, including budget development, and petty cash services. Fees vary based on protocol needs.

To use this CRU, investigators must complete the UTHealth iRIS/CCTS application. Click here to access the CRU Budget Template. Once you have completed the template, please save and send along with your protocol to Kathy.D.Franco@uth.tmc.edu or Estela.A.Acosta@uth.tmc.edu