The NJ Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science (NJ ACTS) experience: Responding at "warp speed" to COVID-19

J Clin Transl Sci. 2022 Apr 4;6(1):e62. doi: 10.1017/cts.2022.383. eCollection 2022.


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic's need for life-saving treatments and a "warp speed" vaccine challenged the National Institutes of Health's Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) recipients to improve their methods and processes in conducting clinical research. While CTSA recipient, New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science (NJ ACTS), responded to this call to action with significant clinical research milestones, a comprehensive understanding of regulatory metrics during the COVID-19 pandemic is uncertain. The objective of this research is to identify, compare, and contrast metrics that illustrate the effectiveness of NJ ACTS's research mobilization efforts during COVID-19.

Methods: Data were collected from the Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Clinical Research Units (CRUs), and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP). IRB data detailed the volume and types of protocols approved and turnaround time (TAT) for approval in 2020 vs. 2019. CRU data examined study metrics of adult and pediatric clinical trials across 2018-2020. ORSP data documented awards received in 2019 and 2020.

Results: Analysis revealed a 95% increase in IRB-approved studies in 2020, with a significant decrease in TAT for COVID-19 studies. All CRUs observed a median 5.2-fold increase in the enrollment of adult and pediatric participants for COVID-19-related research. Study income was 106% and 196% greater than 2019 and 2018, respectively, with more than half funded through federal sponsors and 89% for COVID-19 trials. ORSP data revealed that 9% of awards and 26% of 2020 funding were COVID-19 studies.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that NJACTS effectively responded to challenges posed by the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; CTSA; Institutional Review Board; clinical research; regulatory.