Clinical Fellowship in Huntingdon's Disease Research
Closing date: 29 Feb 2012
Salary: $75,000-$90,000 (Canadian dollars)
Address: University of British Columbia, Vancouver Canada
Duration: 1st Feb 2012 - 31st December 2013
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a hereditary neurodegenerative condition. It usually develops in adulthood (typically between 30 and 50 years old) and can cause a very wide range of symptoms. Manifestations symptoms may include movement disorder (chorea and loss of voluntary movements), cognitive decline (impaired concentration, memory and attention problems) and psychiatric symptoms (e.g. depression, irritability, anxiety). Although genetic testing can establish whether people will go on to develop HD there is currently no way of determining either the age at which they will develop the disease or the subsequent rate of progression. The focus of much of the current research is to identify early markers that can predict and track disease progression (biomarkers). Such biomarkers are essential for determining the effectiveness of new treatments at slowing down disease progression.
TRACK-ON is an innovative multi-centre, multi-national prospective observational study with no experimental treatment that follows the successful previous clinical study TRACK-HD. The primary objective of TRACK-HD was to determine what combination of measures is the most sensitive for detecting change over the natural course of premanifest and early HD, with a view to validating these as potential outcome measures for use in future therapeutic trials. The four study sites of TRACK-ON are in London, Paris, Leiden and Vancouver. TRACK-On will continue to follow the premanifest and control groups from TRACK-HD for an additional 24 months and will assess a number of new imaging modalities and clinical outcome measures.
TRACK-ON is funded by the CHDI Foundation, Inc, New York. This is a private philanthropic foundation established in 2002 with the mission of bringing together academia, industry, governmental agencies, and other funding organizations in the search for Huntington’s disease treatments. The Foundation supports numerous projects related to HD, including basic research, a drug-discovery program, and clinical studies.
A Clinical Research Fellowship is available for a medical graduate with an interest in neurology or psychiatry to work under the direction of Dr. Blair R. Leavitt, based in the Department of Medical Genetics and the Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine (associate) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada.
The work will be in the field of Huntington’s disease, which is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder. The project is a clinical translational project, and is suitable for those seeking a career in clinical neuroscience. The working environment is collective and multidisciplinary. Enthusiasm, ability to be self-organised, an enquiring mind, vision and good clinical skills will all be necessary. The candidate will need to have good computer skills and be able to pick up mathematical statistical concepts.
The clinical research fellow will be closely involved with the Centre for Huntington’s Disease at UBC under the clinical supervision of Dr. Blair R. Leavitt. This is an award-winning clinic that cares for patients and families affected by Huntington’s disease from premanifest gene carriers through to patients with advanced disease. Dr. Blair R. Leavitt is one of two Consultant Neurologists at the clinic other current staff include a Consultant Psychiatrist, a Consultant Clinical Geneticist, a Genetic Counsellor, two Clinical Trial Coordinators, a Clinic Administrator, and a Social Worker from the Huntington Society of Canada. This Clinic receives referrals from all over the province of British Columbia, the Yukon, and Pacific North-Western U.S. and is one of the largest HD clinics in North America, caring for approximately 350 HD patients and many more at risk of the disease.
The appointed clinical fellow will be centrally involved in the establishment and conduct of the TRACK-ON research study. He/she will work closely with the other UBC TRACK-ON team members (Research Nurse, Psychology Research Assistant, Clinical Trials Manager and Project Administrator) as well as other researchers of the HD Medical Clinic Research team. In addition to the training in Huntington’s disease, the candidate will receive clinical training in Clinical Neurogenetics with Dr Blair R. Leavitt.
For TRAC-ON, the Clinical Research Fellow will be responsible for clinical assessments that will take place at baseline, 12 months with 60 subjects (30 controls, 30 premanifest gene-carriers). The Clinical Fellow will obtain informed consent and carry out clinical assessment (medical interview, neurological and oculomotor examination and psychiatric assessment), blood sample collection and processing. The Clinical Research Fellow will be responsible for identifying and acting appropriately on any clinical issues arising in the cohort, in accordance with Good Clinical Practice requirements.
The Clinical Research Fellow will also have the opportunity to become involved in other ongoing research and clinical studies at the HD Medical Clinic and the UBC Neurogenetics Clinic, and will be expected to develop their own specific projects within and outside of TRACK-ON.
Clinical and research
· Knowledge of clinical research regulatory requirements, ethics and governance
Dr Blair Leavitt (firstname.lastname@example.org)