In late September, Can-SOLVE CKD brought together a broad cross-section of Canada’s kidney research community to develop a collaborative vision and sustainability strategy for the Canadian Nephrology Trials Network (CNTN).
A two-day workshop in Toronto aimed to identify CNTN’s strengths to date and align them with emerging opportunities for the network’s next phase as a key core infrastructure funded by Can-SOLVE CKD. Attendees included 10 patient partners as well as university and community researchers, nephrology fellows, and research coordinators.
The workshop’s first day focused on context setting. CNTN chair Dr. Rita Suri and vice-chair Dr. Michael Walsh presented an overview of the current state of nephrology trials in Canada and the ways CNTN can promote trials. Dr. Adeera Levin, Can-SOLVE CKD co-lead, outlined the resources for clinical research in Canada that may be linked through CNTN. The results of two pre-workshop surveys were shared, as was an environmental scan of similar national and international networks. Participants were then asked to process the information presented and complete an assessment of CNTN’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
The second day focused on a visioning exercise to sketch out a view of CNTN in the future. Participants broke into small groups for in-depth discussion of the roles and services that CNTN could offer to Canada’s kidney research community. A key focus of the conversation was patient engagement, including the potential roles patients can play in CNTN activities. Following the visioning exercise, participants provided additional feedback on how the new vision could be implemented.
Three key themes emerged from the visioning exercise: peer review, training, and engagement.
Peer review of clinical trial protocols was considered a current strength of CNTN. In the network’s next phase, CNTN would be available to support and assist investigators throughout the life cycle of a project, from peer review to knowledge translation.
Training includes a focus on increasing clinical trials knowledge and capacity among researchers (Kidney Research Scientist Core Education and National Training (KRESCENT) Program), research coordinators, and patient partners.
Engagement includes the potential for greater integration among the collaborative community of patient partners and researchers across Canada. A patient-oriented research portal is proposed as an engagement resource for both patient partners and researchers.
It is anticipated these themes will become the core missions of CNTN and an action plan for each will be developed and executed.