The Department of Clinical Epidemiology has offered a series of two-day clinical research workshops since 2011 (Figure 1). The beginners workshop held in the summer introduces the field and the history of clinical research, the formulation of research questions using the PICO/PECO framework, the principles of research ethics, and basic knowledge in clinical epidemiology and statistics and it includes small group activities (Figure 2a,b). The advanced workshop held in the winter covers research design for clinical trials and cohort studies, sample size calculation, experts’ experience of clinical research, and research ethics and it includes small group and peer-review committee role play activities (Figure 2c). Every year around twelve people from across Japan participate in the workshop series (Figure 3), and we hold Meet The Experts seminars twice a year and biostatistics seminars ten times a year.
The Department of Clinical Epidemiology has run the NCNP Young Researcher Fellowship Program (YRFP) since 2010. The YRFP is awarded to physicians with no title, junior researchers, nurses, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals with an interest in clinical research. Each year around nine individuals are selected based on their submitted research plan (Figure 4). The program is designed to teach important issues in conducting clinical research, such as study design, protocol preparation, study logistics, and presentation and publication. All program participants must attend clinical research workshops and seminars.
Researchers selected for the NCNP Young Researcher Fellowship Program attend a one-hour tutorial every week (Figure 5). Through these tutorials, the young researchers present their research ideas and receive feedback to help them develop their ideas into study protocols and conduct methodologically sound studies. In fiscal year 2013, 38 tutorials were held.
The Department of Clinical Epidemiology’s Protocol Preparation Course consists of four 3-hour seminars held monthly from June to September. Researchers or clinicians who plan to apply for a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and have no current research grants may apply for the course, even if they are not NCNP staff. Between seminars, participants must submit assignments that help them develop their research protocols. Grant application documents are completed when the participant successfully finishes and incorporates feedback from lecturers into their assignments. In 2014, twelve participants completed the course.
This half-day workshop is intended for researchers, clinicians, educators, statisticians and others with an interest in understanding or performing meta-analyses. The workshop is run in cooperation with the Japanese Cochrane Branch located at the National Center for Child Health and Development (NCCHD) in Tokyo. The workshop primarily focuses on conceptual and practical issues rather than mathematical ones. In 2014, around ninety people from NCNP, NCCHD and the National Cancer Center in Japan participated in the workshop and completed a meta-analysis assignment that required the use of computer software.
TMC offers seminars on clinical genetics to doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, and other interested in understanding clinical genetics to help them perform genetic analyses and clinical trials. Genetic analyses are extremely useful for arriving at a definitive diagnosis of muscular and neurological disorders such as muscular dystrophy, spinocerebellar ataxia, and mitochondrial disease. In addition, our National Center Hospital has recently started clinical trials on gene therapy for muscular dystrophy. One-hour seminars, run every Monday from May to February, cover a wide range of topics from basic genetics to a review of clinical case studies we have encountered in our clinics.
We also offer seminars on genetic counseling to clinical geneticists and genetic counselors both within and outside NCNP, because NCNP serves as a national center of research and medicine for mental, neurological, muscular, and developmental disorders, among which are many rare diseases. Genetic analysis and genetic counseling are highly effective in the management of these diseases, and once or twice a year we offer opportunities to learn about the latest clinical information and to role-play practice in some of following areas: mitochondrial disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, myotonic dystrophy, mitochondrial disease, and spinocerebellar ataxia.
Two-hour muscle pathology tutorials are held every Thursday to discuss cases referred to NCNP for diagnosis. Residents and MD post-docs are assigned cases to present, providing them with a valuable opportunity to learn more about muscle pathology, an area in which there are few experts available to teach. Participants also include physicians from nearby hospitals and universities.
We host a one-week Muscle Pathology Summer School twice a year, in June and August, to teach young neurologists, pediatric neurologists, and pathologists more about muscle pathology. Participants have the chance to learn about the whole picture of muscle diseases and their pathological features, as well as master in hands-on sessions how to fix and handle clinical samples and how to read pathology slides. Each year we have ten to twelve participants, including first-year residents from NCNP’s National Center Hospital and physicians from outside NCNP. We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the summer school and the training of more than 500 participating physicians in 2014. We look forward to training many more, helping to increase the number of physicians who can contribute to the advancement of neuromuscular medicine (Figures 7-9).