UCSF Fresno Clinical Research Center Ramps Up, Ready to Oversee More Multi-Disciplinary Clinical Trials and Studies

Renee Amavizca prepares samples for the DREAM Study. 

Research is vital to UCSF Fresno’s mission to improve health in the San Joaquin Valley and Central California. Faculty investigators at UCSF Fresno conduct government, industry, and private-sponsored outpatient (and inpatient) research. UCSF Fresno’s priorities include investigating health conditions relevant to the region and securing clinical trials that bring new treatments to the area before they are available more broadly.

The UCSF Fresno Clinical Research Center (CRC) consolidates research at UCSF Fresno into one centralized location on the UCSF School of Medicine regional campus in downtown Fresno. The CRC opened in 2013. It has grown significantly and now encompasses 11 full-time clinical staff including research coordinators, a regulatory specialist, phlebotomists, an on-site dedicated pharmacist and two pharmacy technicians.

Eyad Almasri, MD, assistant dean for Research at UCSF Fresno and core faculty in the Department of Medicine, the Division of Pulmonary Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, oversees the coordination of research at UCSF Fresno and says the center is crucial for faculty.

“Medication storage, grant applications, shoring up resources, blood draws, different sample collections, research-related procedures and tests like EKG, pulmonary function testing, it all takes place in this center,” Dr. Almasri said.

Also available are two fully equipped patient exam rooms with EKG machines and blood pressure monitors, a phlebotomy and blood processing room with refrigerated centrifuge, an investigational drug pharmacy with the ability to store room-temperature and refrigerated investigational products, a secure file room for storage of confidential subject charts, a specimen storage room with -20 and -80 degree freezers, a consultation room for one-on-one interviews and a conference room for research meetings.

The equipment and staff at the center are available to support all UCSF Fresno departments, faculty and students who are conducting research.

Infectious Diseases physician Geetha Sivasubraminian, MD, is actively involved in several research projects at UCSF Fresno and says the work she does is dependent on the research center.

“It’s phenomenal to have something so accessible. I can come in here in the middle of my work or my rounds without driving several miles out,” said Dr. Sivasubraminian. “Not all training programs have a research center right in the middle of their campus so it’s unique that UCSF Fresno has it available to trainees which means they can come in here and work with the coordinators and staff on their research projects. I don’t think that’s readily available for folks across the country.”

Dr. Almasri said the center is important to faculty and trainees to conduct research but also because it is constantly being considered as a potential study site for multinational studies that are conducted throughout the world. “Having this independent space that is not tied directly to clinical care allows us to coordinate with other sister institutions like UC Merced and Fresno State and other institutions in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Every day there are research studies being conducted including research visits, new studies being considered, new studies being launched, and follow-up after a study.

There are currently 73 active clinical trials, 41 public service and 38 open studies. Current studies include research projects involving cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, Mycobacterium avium complex, AC lung infection, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, interstitial Lung Disease, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), sepsis, pulmonary hypertension, community acquired pneumonia, Valley fever, bacteremia, observational volunteer OB/GYN Dream Study discovering cancer risks from environmental exposures, COVID and other viral infections.

“I have been here for the last fourteen years, and I have seen this research institution grow gradually. It started as a very small research enterprise with a few coordinators and a couple assistants, and now we have a full staff. I have seen the growth of this institution firsthand, and I'm excited for its future,” Dr. Almasri said.


Part of Newsletter: Focus on UCSF Fresno Fall 2023