Wake Forest Baptist Health Dermatology Researching Hope

On a mission to seek out the highest quality research data in its field, the Dermatology Clinical Studies Unit of Wake Forest Baptist Health enjoys a strong bond with current patients, while paving the way for healthier generations to come.

In addition to offering clinical care, Dermatology Clinical Studies provides training for future practitioners, and hope for those patients who suffer from skin issues that dramatically affect everyday life.

What sounds like a tall order comes easily for these researchers in the field of dermatology. Since its inception in 1990, the unit’s data findings have enabled FDA approval of a host of medicines to improve care for patients with skin diseases.

Clinical Studies director Adele Clark, PA-C, says there are typically about 15 trials in progress at one time, and as the region’s leading dermatology department, patients may come from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and beyond. Volunteers are needed for trials on a variety of skin-related issues, and each body of research follows a rigorous review process to protect the safety and rights of every subject.

The Dermatology Clinical Studies team includes board-certified dermatologists, certified clinical research coordinators, recruitment specialists, and administrative staff. With current trials underway that focus on issues such as acne, rosacea, and psoriasis, Clark stresses that the team is focused on high-quality results. The team’s ultimate goal is discovering effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat each skin-related disease.

Study coordinator Ann Boles, RN, CCRC, has been involved in clinical research since the 1980s and finds that she most enjoys developing long-term relationships with the psoriasis patients she works with.

“At heart, I’m a nurse,” Boles says. “But education is my favorite thing about nursing, and I found this opportunity!”

Because many of the psoriasis clinical trials last three to five years, Boles can get to know patients’ families, and she educates loved ones right along with the subject. Psoriasis can also trigger depression and anxiety, which provides countless personal opportunities for education on many levels, en route to discovering new treatments.

Gina Barker, CRC, a study coordinator with a neurological background, has been immersed in the medical field in several areas for the past 20 years and entered the research world seven years ago. Currently involved with studies in atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema, she says she finds it vital to educate people on what research is really all about.

“It’s an opportunity to touch future generations,” Barker explains. She says trial participants are invited to provide personal input into finding the best outcomes possible.

“I have a deep appreciation for the fact that we are part of bringing new drugs to relieve people’s pain,” Barker says.

You may be surprised to learn that hair loss is also a focus of drug research, something that coordinator Judy Holbrook, LPN, CCRC, knows is intensely personal for her patients. “Our study includes hair loss for both men and women, and we are seeing really good results,” she says.

As a 38-year veteran of the clinical studies field, Holbrook is a people person, and she knows there are big rewards for meeting and helping those who struggle with this condition. “I hope at the end of each day, I’ve been an encouragement to someone,” she says.

Dermatology Clinical Studies projects vary in timeframe, from as short as one week to some that last a year or longer. Three to six months is average, and subjects are informed of the length of a study in advance. They also know they are free to withdraw from a study at any time, with the full support of study coordinators.

The team with Dermatology Clinical Studies knows that individual successes are part of the bigger picture in research—new treatment options and continuing hope for patients who deserve the best.

If you are interested in participating in one of the Department of Dermatology’s current—or future—research trials, call 336-716-3775 or visit wakehealth.edu/BeInvolved.