The U.S. healthcare system needs to place a greater emphasis on clinical research to minimize disease and maximize the value of each dollar spent, says the president and chief executive officer of the Duke University Health Care system.

Ralph Snyderman, M.D., chancellor for health affairs at Duke and CEO of its health system, says today’s health care system suffers from “a lack of robust clinical research–to translate basic scientific discoveries into clinical relevance.”

Dr. Snyderman voiced his views in an editorial in last week’s Journal of the American Medical Association partly in response to a report showing the National Institute of Health funds non-clinical research at a higher rate than clinical research.

“Clinical research – including the translation of basic scientific findings into medical treatments and the evaluation of patient outcomes – is the critical element needed to define and monitor effective health strategies,” Snyderman said. “Without clinical research, the rational application of research discoveries to the development of prospective care and personalized health planning cannot occur.”

The gap in NIH funding is “only a symptom of a larger, more complex problem,” Snyderman said. The pool of well-trained clinical researchers remains inadequate as the medical community and the public at large continue to undervalue the role of clinical investigation.”

Snyderman calls for academic medical leaders to “jump-start” support for clinical research by fostering clinical research centers within their institutions and by advocating the application of new discoveries and technologies to medical practice.

“The wave of the future for improving health care through evidence-based medicine depends on the capability of conducting large clinical trials,” said Snyderman.

“Clinical research is the way to translate the huge body of knowledge stemming from research into clinical practice. It is the way we will learn which medical interventions work and which do not in large patient populations over time.”

Snyderman points to Duke’s own Clinical Research Institute as an example. The DCRI has nearly 900 employees and has enrolled more than 450,000 participants in worldwide clinical trials.

Duke Clinical Research Institute: