Vision Research Coordinating Center
The Vision Research Coordinating Center (VRCC) is a joint collaboration between the University Hospitals Eye Institute and the Case Western Reserve University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. The Center was established in 2004 to coordinate all ophthalmic clinical trials contracted through UH or CWRU. The VRCC is led by Loretta Szczotka-Flynn OD, PhD, and is physically housed in Coordinating Center Suites within the Wearn building of UH Cleveland Medical Center’s main campus. The VRCC currently employs 3 full-time coordinators or project managers and collaborates with the UH Clinical Research Center Coordinator Core as needed for additional coordinator effort on some studies. The VRCC also includes support of ophthalmic research technicians and certifications required for most of our sponsored studies.
The VRCC manages all clinical research projects within the UH Eye Institute and the CWRU Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences from start to finish including:
- sponsor communications for site evaluation, initiation, monitoring and closeout visits
- departmental budgeting and billing start up activities
- regulatory and certification requirements
- Institutional Review Board approvals
- participant recruitment and retention
- study visit execution
- adverse event evaluation and reporting
- sponsor queries
- and study closeout
The VRCC also manages all ophthalmic study visits for other clinical departments at UH that require eye-related research procedures or visits. Lastly, the VRCC serves as a Clinical Data Coordinating Center for other projects in collaboration with other academic institutions.
Current Clinical Trial Areas
- Retina Clinical Research
The Retina and Uveitis Clinical Research Program is led by Shree Kurup, MD and co-investigator, Warren Sobol, MD. The UH Eye Institute and CWRU Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has long been part of the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Trials Network of studies which are funded by the National Eye Institute and managed by the Jaeb Center for Health Research. The DRCR.net studies evaluate treatment and management options for diabetic retinopathy but also other retina and vitreous conditions. The Retina and Uveitis Clinical Research Program is also actively involved in industry-sponsored studies evaluating macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and uveitis.
- Glaucoma Clinical Trials
The Glaucoma Clinical Research Program is led by Douglas Rhee, MD and is supported by co-investigators Edward Burney, MD, Shakeel Shareef, MD, and Yasmin Sozeri, MD. Dr. Rhee leads multiple sponsored trials in minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, sustained release biodegradable pharmacological implants, and novel glaucoma topical drops. Our investigators also participate in federally sponsored and investigator initiated projects pertaining to genetics of glaucoma susceptibility, minimally invasive glaucoma implants, and aqueous outflow studies.
- Cornea Clinical Research
The Cornea Clinical Research Program is led by Ahmed Omar, MD and supported by co-investigators Jonathan Lass, MD and Loretta Szczotka-Flynn, OD, PhD. The Cornea Service at the UH Eye Institute and CWRU Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has a long established record of excellence and involvement in corneal transplant trials under previous directorship of Dr. Lass. In that regard, the UH Eye Institute was a clinical site for the National Eye Institute (NEI) sponsored Cornea Donor Study (CDS) and Cornea Preservation Time Study (CPTS), with the CWRU Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences participating as the Cornea Image Analysis Reading Center (CIARC) for the Specular Microscopy Ancillary Study (SMAS) of the CDS and led the CPTS as the Chair’s Office, Coordinating Center, and the CIARC. The UH Eye Institute additionally has also been involved in NEI-sponsored studies of dry eye (Dry Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) Study), the Zoster Eye Disease Study (ZEDS), and genetics of Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy. Finally, the Service was a major enroller in the landmark NEI-sponsored Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Keratoconus Study (CLEK) that conducted a comprehensive study of the natural history of the disease and factors contributing to progression. The Cornea Service continues its efforts in excellence in corneal transplantation research by participating in new trials surrounding novel methods of lamellar corneal transplantation and Descemet stripping without endothelial keratoplasty (DWEK).
- Contact Lens Clinical Research
The Contact Lens Clinical Research Program is led by Loretta Szczotka-Flynn, OD, PhD and supported by co-investigators Thomas Stokkermans, OD, PhD, Stacy Schonberg, OD, and Sara Hitchman, OD. Dr. Szczotka-Flynn has a successful history of leading industry sponsored trials of new contact lens designs and NEI/foundation sponsored research on contact lens related complications. Leadership in performance and recruitment as a site stems from excellent relationships with contact lens industry sponsors, and University Hospitals and CWRU local communities. Significant advancements in the field of contact lens related complications have been made by Dr. Szczotka-Flynn and this team while collaborating with UH and CWRU experts in clinical microbiology (Michael Jacobs, MD, PhD and Daniel Rhoades, MD, biofilms and microbiome (Mahmoud Ghannoum, MD), and genetics (Sudha Iyengar, PhD).
- Pediatric Ophthalmology Clinical Trials
The Pediatric Ophthalmology Clinical Research Program is led by Faruk Örge, MD and co-investigators Hayley Klein, MD, Michael Abrams, MD and Adam Pieffer, OD, MS. The UH Eye Institute and CWRU Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences has long been part of the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) of studies which are funded by the National Eye Institute and managed by the Jaeb Center for Health Research. The PEDIG studies evaluate treatment and management options for amblyopia, strabismus, convergence insufficiency and other pediatric eye conditions. This group has also been actively involved in sponsored studies evaluating pediatric aphakia and cataract surgery, ocular imaging, and retinopathy of prematurity.
Clinical Research Facilities
The Clinical research facilities include full time clinical faculty offices on the 4th floor of the Lakeside building of UHCMC. These offices are located within an inside 3-5 minute walk to the Department's 8,000 sq. ft. clinical practice offices which houses a research-dedicated fully equipped 100 sq. feet examination room. We have additional research dedicated exam lanes, refrigerators/freezers, and coordinator offices at satellite locations. The Vision Research Coordinating Center (VRCC) is located in UHCMC within a few minutes of the faculty offices and clinical practice offices, and includes 2 offices with space for 4 Coordinators, assistants, monitors and secure storage and computers in 800 sq. ft.