GVSU, MSU sign partnership for certificate program

Provost Gayle R. Davis and MSU Provost Kim Wilcox at the signing ceremony for the CRTM program.
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Provost Gayle R. Davis and MSU Provost Kim Wilcox at the signing ceremony for the CRTM program.
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A new health care graduate program operated by Grand Valley and Michigan State University will help train workers for the growing field of clinical research trial management.

Officials from each university signed an agreement September 17 at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.

Gayle R. Davis, Grand Valley provost, said the joint certification program meets a growing need in the health care field. "The number of clinical research trials for medications and devices is increasing but there is little training for people who serve as trial coordinators," Davis said.

The online program began in August. Students enroll in two courses at Grand Valley and two at MSU. Elizabeth Cowan was among the first students to enroll in the program. Cowan earned a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley in biology, and said she plans to use the certificate program to aid her path to a master’s degree in cell and molecular biology.

Cowan works as a researcher for Mead Johnson in Zeeland and said the certificate program could further her career possibilities there. “I’ve been interested in the clinical side of research trials,” Cowan said. “I do the lab work but to see it through the clinical trial process would be great.”

That is what MSU Provost Kim Wilcox said before signing the agreement. “This program helps the future of West Michigan and the future of Grand Rapids,” Wilcox said. “We will have people with a lot of different skillsets in a lot of different roles building the broader component of medical research.”

Grand Valley program director Martina Reinhold said after students complete the one-year program, they would be trained for positions as clinical research coordinators, regulatory affairs specialists, project and data managers, or auditors.

Reinhold expects the program to be popular among working professionals. "There are people who are already working as research coordinators or nurses who could easily move into this program," she said. "Anyone with a health professions background would do well in this program."

Loren Friedman, director of clinical trials at MSU, who worked with colleagues at GVSU to design the program, said there are approximately 1,700 clinical trials currently enrolling new patients in Michigan. 

"This online certificate program will provide a valuable educational and training opportunity to both current clinical research professionals involved in carrying out these trials and those interested in becoming part of this endeavor," Friedman said. 

The joint program announcement is one of several collaborative health professions initiatives between Grand Valley and Michigan State. GVSU was the first institution to partner with MSU College of Human Medicine on an Early Assurance Program for medical school admission in 2008. To date, 16 GVSU graduates have been admitted to MSU’s medical school through the program.

For more information about the CRTM program, click here.