For my student work position, I have the pleasure of working for TRiNDS, a full-service CRO specializing in neuromuscular disorders (DMD, BMD, FSHD, etc) that also runs the coordinating center for the CINRG network. Confused by the alphabet soup? Don’t worry, I was too when I first started. I learned very quickly that the clinical research world is full of acronyms. Let me break them down for you.
TRiNDS stands for Therapeutic Research in Neuromuscular Disorders Solutions. TRiNDS is a contract research organization (a CRO), a type of company that can support pharmaceutical or academic centers for their clinical research needs. TRiNDS does not directly conduct the clinical research, but helps support the clinical operations, data collection and management, and analyses of research studies. TRiNDS is a unique CRO in that it specializes in neuromuscular disorders, including (but not limited to) Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) and Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD). These are rare, debilitating diseases that cause progressive loss of muscle function and mobility starting in early childhood. Several individuals at TRiNDS have worked with the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group, or CINRG for short. CINRG is a network of professionals and institutions around the world that have partnered together to study these rare neuromuscular disorders. Through inter-clinic and international collaboration, CINRG aims to improve the quality of life for individuals and families dealing with neuromuscular disorders through clinical research investigations. TRiNDS grew out of the CINRG coordinating center (CC), and now continues to coordinate the network activity. So, to sum it all up, TRiNDS is a CRO specializing in disorders like DMD, BMD, FSHD, etc that also runs the CC for the CINRG network.
As the TRiNDS Clinical Research Assistant, I help with the day-to-day and clerical activities at TRiNDS. Some of my responsibilities include managing company files, scheduling meetings, and coordinating supplies and equipment needed by the CINRG sites to collect strength and function assessments. I also help draft company documents, and I was involved in the development of both the TRiNDS website and the recently-updated CINRG website. These activities have allowed me to peek inside the world of clinical research trials and learn about the ins and outs of developing therapeutics for rare disorders. I have gained an appreciation for how much time and effort goes into completing a successful clinical trial, and for the dedicated professionals and brave families who devote their lives to furthering knowledge about these disorders. While TRiNDS specializes in many neuromuscular disorders, I have mostly been exposed to trials related to DMD, which has given me an insight into the amazing Duchenne community. I am in awe of the courage and optimism of the DMD community, and the more I learn about DMD, the more inspired I am to get involved and to work to my fullest potential. I am excited knowing that I will be able to devote my graduate thesis project to furthering knowledge about DMD.
I also work with a wonderful and diverse team at TRiNDS, and it has been a joy to collaborate with and learn from my growing group of coworkers. Two TRiNDS employees are actually genetic counselors, so it has been very eye-opening to see how their careers have progressed so far and how they use their skills as genetic counselors in the world of clinical research. Going into graduate school, I knew that I wanted exposure to as many different genetic counseling roles as possible, so I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to learn from these genetic counselors working in unique positions.
Working for TRiNDS is shaping my professional identity and helping me grow into the genetic counselor that I want to be. No matter where I end up after I graduate, I will continue to utilize the knowledge and lessons learned through this position, which I know is setting me up for my best future. To say I am grateful for this experience is an understatement, and I am looking forward to seeing how the company grows as I continue to work through my second year.
-Julia Stone, Class of 2017