Health research is a global enterprise that has produced vital advances in reducing mortality and burden of disease. However, much can be done to improve the value and return on investment of funds spent on conducting research. Dr. An-Wen Chan is developing research system solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of research while enhancing patient care. These solutions aim to improve how research is designed, conducted and reported to ensure that healthcare decisions are based on the best evidence.
As a dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon, Dr. Chan sees first-hand how the increasing prevalence of skin cancer affects the lives of his patients. Access to high-quality research evidence is essential to providing the best care to and improving outcomes for these patients through novel prevention and treatment strategies. To accomplish this, Dr. Chan is focused on ensuring that research is conducted and reported in a way that minimizes bias and promotes quality for the benefit of patients and providers.
Currently, Dr. Chan chairs the SPIRIT (Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials) initiative, which was launched in 2007 to help improve the completeness and quality of clinical trial protocols. The evidence-based SPIRIT recommendations were developed using systematic, transparent methodology and broad consultation with numerous experts involved in the design, funding, conduct, review, and publication of trial protocols. Under Dr. Chan’s leadership, SPIRIT has received global endorsement by 33 organizations, including the World Association of Medical Editors, European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network and GlaxoSmithKline. Over 100 medical journals have also introduced policies recommending that submitted trial protocols adhere to the SPIRIT guidelines, improving the way health research is conducted.
At a global policy level, Dr. Chan chairs the World Health Organization’s Advisory Panel for the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. By producing and adopting evidence-based guidance for researchers and leveraging technology to design clinical trials, Dr. Chan hopes to promote a future where health research is accessible, transparent and high quality. The widespread adoption of these strategies also has the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of the research that underpins patient care.