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CTSI research navigator provides opportunities, guidance to Penn State researchers

Penn Staters across the Commonwealth have a new resource to help them carry out their research projects. Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s research navigator connects faculty, staff and students with research resources like funding opportunities, using data and informatics for research, recruiting and retaining research participants and engaging the community in research studies. The process begins when the user (faculty, staff, student) fills out a research request form.

Abbey Fisher, research project manager and research navigator with CTSI, reviews the forms and reaches out to researchers to provide support. She describes her role as an air traffic controller for research.

“Research is a complex process from start to finish,” Fisher said. “Not all steps are applicable to everyone, and investigators don’t always enter the cycle at the same spot. I’m here to help you at any stage of the process and determine appropriate next steps. Even if I can’t offer direct assistance, I can point you to someone who can.”

The creation of Fisher’s role and coinciding modifications to the research request form allow CTSI to provide streamlined, comprehensive support to Penn State researchers from all colleges, campuses and levels of experience. Form changes include modified descriptions of services so requestors can better identify areas where they may need support.

Fisher, who has worked in research at Penn State College of Medicine for more than eight years, knows the research process well and conducts on average one virtual consultation every one to two weeks. Recent consultations she’s hosted included identifying support for using electronic medical records in research, helping with stakeholder connections, engagement and general research resources, and recruitment for a survey study.

Ultimately, Fisher’s job is to make sure the research process is as smooth and efficient as possible for Penn Staters. When multiple areas of support are needed, she develops a plan to help researchers address their needs in the most effective way.

“This reimagined research navigation framework is especially useful to new faculty, staff and students, Penn Staters from University Park, the College of Medicine and other commonwealth campuses, and researchers at affiliate medical centers such as Holy Spirit Medical Center and St. Joseph Medical Center,” Fisher said. “Our goal is to help anyone interested in research engage and get the help they need, when they need it, and make the process more accessible to the Penn State community.

Need research support? Fill out the form to get started.

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