Emerging Subspecialties in Neurology: A Career as a Clinical Trialist in Neurology

The recent therapeutic advances in the field of neurology highlight the importance of ongoing clinical trials. However, while clinical research in neurology has remained relatively stable over the past 10 years, there has been an interval decrease in neuroscience applicants for NIH funding, which has raised concerns about the pipeline and future of clinical research in neurology. Those interested in such a career can begin by identifying a preclinical neuroscience advance that has yet to be translated into clinical trial work or a clinical area of need based on conversations with patients and families. Once such an area of interest is identified, seeking mentors either at one’s own local institution or through networking at conferences is important in developing the necessary skills pertaining to clinical trial conduct and design and in gaining access to the relevant professional networks. There is also a myriad of training opportunities, such as the NINDS Clinical Trials Methodology Course, Masters of Science in Clinical Research, and certificate programs that offer formal training. Additional considerations for advancing in this career include exploring the potential for secondary publications using data available from previous clinical trials or serving as a subinvestigator. Challenges in pursuing such a career include the relatively low rate of positive outcomes compared with other fields and consistent salary support throughout one’s career. Overall, a career as a clinical trialist in neurology is rewarding because one is able to participate in advancing the field and offer potentially new treatments to their patients.

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