From the AUA Research Council: Passing the Gavel

By: Aria F. Olumi, MD; Steven A. Kaplan, MD | Posted on: 01 Jun 2021

The greatest honor of serving as the AUA Research Council Chair for the past 6 years has been the opportunity to work with the best and brightest in our field and having a collective mission to advance urological research. To reach this ever-evolving goal, our mission statement focused on educating our community so that our scientists have the proper knowledge and tools to focus on impactful research to improve the health of our patients. By creating the new Physician Science Residency Training program, an alternate path for urology residency training that was approved by the AUA Board of Directors, American Board of Urology and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, we developed a path to educate our young physician-scientists to obtain the necessary knowledge and lead independent research programs. Our online courses on “Big Data and ‘Omics’ Analysis in Urologic Research” and “The Researcher’s Toolkit” created innovative interactive learning modules. Recognizing that mentorship is a necessary component for advancement in one’s career, the USMART (Urology Scientific Mentoring and Research Training) Academy was created to enhance mentorship for our young scientists. We advocated to the federal government to maintain the U.S. Department of Defense’s disease-focused research support and played a key role in bringing to the fore bladder cancer as a funding opportunity that has benefited many of our scientists. And perhaps, most importantly, even before the recent changes in political climate, we raised awareness about diversity, equity and inclusion in our research community for proper representation in our committees and research award portfolios.

None of the above-mentioned examples, and many more that the Office of Research has tackled, would have been possible without Dr. Carolyn Best, AUA Director of Research, and her dedicated Office of Research team whose commitment and focus to advance urological research was unwavering.

As leadership of the AUA Research mission is passed on to Dr. Steven Kaplan, challenging headwinds will need to be navigated. Yet there is tremendous optimism, energy and enthusiasm, and opportunity to build on the foundations noted above. Too often, research is viewed as a loss leader at the local and institutional level as well as nationally. We have not valued and are therefore inadequately populated by state-of-the-art urology-themed researchers. Moreover, urology has not fully recognized the deleterious effects of health care disparities in our cities and country, and has not supported underrepresented minorities in helping to foster their early clinical and research careers. This will be a major emphasis moving forward with measurable milestones. In addition, we intend to create initiatives and pathways to coalesce the various groups who are needed to create a renaissance in urological research. This will incorporate scientists, urologists, legislators, leaders at both the sectional and national AUA levels, and other engaged partners in being the leaders in understanding both benign and malignant diseases.

Ultimately, for our specialty to survive, we must be at the forefront of discovery and we must engage urologists in data collection and creation of informatic repositories, clinical trials and outcomes research. Clinicians, basic scientists and other urological leaders all need to be at the same table, opinions valued and recommendations implemented. These are our goals and missions over the next 4 years. We hope you will join is in these efforts.

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” –John Wooden

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