FROM THE AUA RESEARCH COUNCIL: Enhancing Independent and Global Urologic Discoverers

By: Steven A. Kaplan, MD | Posted on: 01 Mar 2022

We’re all under the same sky and walk the same earth; We’re alive together during the same moment.

–Maxine Hong Kingston

As part of our conversation of sharing the Strategic Plan of The Office of Research of the American Urological Association, I’ve shared our vision and steps forward in increasing the quality and value of AUA/Urology Care Foundation research programs by increasing capacity for diversity, equity and inclusion, and improving optimization and sustainability of existing programs. In this edition of AUANews, I’d like to share 2 more important efforts in increasing impact via a wider and more strategic constituency.

As part of our overall approach to develop a Strategic Plan, we had a clear and defined methodology, which included: 1) establishing and facilitating term-limited, goal-specific advisory groups to provide additional external expertise; 2) collecting and reviewing data to inform specific objectives; 3) developing and prioritizing specific objectives and associated milestones and metrics; 4) developing business models where appropriate; 5) identifying potential partners (AUA internal and external) to serve as catalysts for goal achievement; 6) obtaining input and approval from governance bodies, ie Research Council, AUA and UCF Boards of Directors; 7) developing and executing a robust communication plan including articles such as these in AUANews; and 8) beginning programmatic changes where they can be accommodated within existing or newly secured resources.

There is an overarching recognition in the Office of Research and Research Council that a concerted effort toward outreach to our colleagues in independent urologic practices was key to expansion of the discovery tent. Historically, a “town grown” mantra existed, where discovery seemed to be centered in academic centers and community urologists focused on clinical care. Times have certainly changed! With the advent of so many new verticals within urology, urologists in nonacademic arenas began to expand their research infrastructure. In fact, many of the most important discoveries in urology and in particular urologic oncology emanated from independent urology practices. To that end, we established a Research Council community-based research work group. This was led by Dr. Deepak Kapoor, who is one of the pioneers in the establishment of large urology group practices (LUGPs). The committee consists of other leaders in urologic discovery. As part of that workgroup, I have been impressed with the knowledge, expertise and output of our colleagues in these research environments. To that end, we have reconfigured a previous initiative as the new Methods in Clinical Urology Research (MCURe) Workshop, emphasizing independent practice-based investigators. The first meeting was held in July 2021 with great feedback. Our goals are to:

  • Increase inclusion of these leaders in discovery at the AUA annual meeting and regional meetings;
  • Incentivize inclusion in new or existing programs;
  • Emulate effective programs that support collaboration with practices;
  • Create an academic/community stakeholder committee to organize studies and identify pharma pipelines needing sites and set goals; and
  • Leverage research/expertise in LUGPs and studies with community-derived biospecimens and big data.

Another goal is to improve outreach to increase international engagement in the Early Career Investigators Showcase at the annual meeting. We are in the process of developing and conducting an International Urology Research Needs Assessment. Objectives under consideration include:

  • Taking research workshops (ie Early Career Investigator and MCURe) on the road internationally;
  • Incentivizing inclusion of international collaborators in UCF research grants, ie special populations; and
  • Establishing research touchpoints with international urology societies, including perspectives of AUA Assistant Secretaries.

Our agenda, as you have read in past AUANews updates, is robust and ambitious. To carry out our existing programs and our strategic plan requires a dedicated group of folks who are aligned in vision, purpose and goals. I have been very fortunate to be involved with a group of colleagues at the AUA Office of Research. Many thanks to Carolyn Best, Julia Gumminger and Eric Siedow for their support in carrying out the research agenda for the AUA.

In the next issue of AUANews, we will share with you an exciting new venture that will engage researchers, entrepreneurs, industry and champions of discovery. Stay tuned, and always feel free to contact me with ideas, suggestions or thoughts. This is the beginning of a new beginning: let us create a better future!

Follow Dr. Kaplan on Twitter @MaleHealthDoc.

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