StrokeCog clinical training platform has been established with funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Its objective is to enhance the design of clinical trials to improve equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility by developing a new generation of more diverse clinical trial leaders with training to conduct inclusive complex trials in diverse populations, across a wider range of care settings.
This will position Canada as a global leader in equity-driven clinical trials.
Although stroke affects Canadians of every age, sex, and ethnicity from all over Canada, the majority of stroke clinical trials are conducted in major centres with limited participation from the highest risk populations or those with the most severe deficits, which limits the benefits of trial advances to only a fraction of Canadians impacted by stroke.
There are marked inequities in stroke prevalence, risk factor burden and control,acute care and rehabilitation by sex and ethnicity, with marginalized communities and women showing the greatest vulnerability and worst outcomes. Despite these inequities, women and individuals from high-risk marginalized communities are underrepresented in stroke clinical trials.
This platform will develop a new generation of more diverse stroke clinical trial leaders, with training to conduct inclusive complex trials in diverse populations, across a wider range of care settings to maximize benefit for all Canadians.
Centering EDIA means that STROKECOG will prioritize the representation and participation of all equity-deserving groups in the development and delivery of its high-quality training programs, with content designed to specifically address known/identified inequities in the current clinical trials landscape in Canada.
Why is this important? Stroke remains the second leading cause of death worldwide and a leading cause of adult long-term disability. Inequitable clinical trial designs and practices limit the success and generalizability of trial outcomes. By employing an EDIA-centered approach, STROKECOG will provide new opportunities for the development of diversified clinical trials expertise and leadership that will promote inclusive trial designs and practices and capacity building in under-represented care settings.
StrokeCog is an equity, diversity, inclusivity and accessibility (EDIA)-centered training platform that will redefine how stroke clinical trials expertise is developed in Canada.
Our vision is to innovate new approaches to clinical trials training that directly embed evidence-based EDIA principles at every stage to create sustainable change in the systems of clinical trial design and conduct in Canada. Using these principles, we will develop more diversified clinical trials teams with the expertise to conduct high quality, innovative, clinical trials across the stroke continuum that are more inclusive and accessible to the broader stroke population and across a diverse range of care settings, to create a trials landscape that will produce more equitable evidence for the prevention, management and outcomes of stroke.
- Develop structured, openly accessible, and sustainable training and mentoring platforms:
- Support development of skills that increase employability and career prospects across sectors;
- Support and contribute to CTF funded research and participate in the Pan-Canadian Clinical Trials Consortium.
This platform is early-career-researcher led and includes 14 partnering academic institutions across six provinces, engagement from established academic training networks, industry partners, community and Indigenous organizations, EDI champions, and knowledge users, including trainees and individuals with lived experience and experts in knowledge mobilization.
To directly address gaps, the StrokeCog Platform will develop new stroke clinical trial training and mentorship initiatives that will employ multiple EDIA-informed strategies to enhance the diversity of trainees, provide training in diverse care settings, and increase cross-sectoral participation.
It will do this by developing structured, openly accessible and sustainable training and mentoring platforms that build capacity in the design, delivery, and analysis of clinical trials.
Clinical (MD) and research (PhD) fellowships
We are actively working to develop sustainable clinical and research stroke fellowships training outside of major academic centres to develop capacity for the design, delivery and analysis of clinical trials in more diverse care settings.
We will enhance the diversity of candidates applying to the fellowship program via targeted advertising of fellowship awards for recruitment from diverse subspecialities, and underrepresented and international communities
We will work to create synergic training opportunities for fellows with other national health training platforms and our organizational and industry partners to build capacity for training in the design and delivery of trials testing assistive technologies or with cognitive endpoints that will enable increased participation from more diverse patient populations currently underrepresented in stroke clinical trials.
Annual Conference and Summer Institutes
There will be an annual two-day conference to bring together trainees, mentors, and partners. This conference will feature presentations from international experts in stroke clinical trials and will highlight trainee research and offer multiple networking events both with peers and StrokeCog mentors.
We will also offer new intensive, hands-on training opportunities with an in-depth focus on high priority topics in stroke research through the creation of an innovative program of annual in-person one week summer training institutes.
StrokeCog Summer Institute in Sex and Gender Considerations for Clinical Trial Design and Reporting
StrokeCog Summer Institute Protocol Development Hackathon: Critical Comparison of Protocols for Tertiary vs. Primary Stroke Centres
Experiential Learning Opportunities
To support the development of skills that improve employability and career prospects across sectors, there will be diverse opportunities for experiential learning to build strong multi-sectoral collaborations that will increase employability and career prospects for trainees and add new value to the stroke clinical trials training landscape in Canada.
These experiential learning opportunities will be available to all registered StrokeCog trainees across the country and trainees funded by StrokeCog will be required to engage in one or more of the experiential learning opportunities.
Cross-Sectoral Mentorship and Train-the-Trainer Program
StrokeCog will develop a unique and robust cross-sectoral mentorship program, with an integrated experiential learning train-the-trainer approach.
The StrokeCog platform will launch a new industry-partnered internship program for registered trainees to add additional value to existing stroke clinical trials training and increase employability of trainees. Internship opportunities will include a focus on the acquisition of new knowledge of innovative technological interventions for stroke recovery and assistive technologies for activities of daily living for chronic community-based stroke survivors, both urgent needs for the stroke community identified in consultation with our StrokeCog leadership and patient representatives.
Experiential Translational Workshops
Using the CPSR’s highly successful Stroke Program in Neurorecovery (SPiN) Workshop as a model, the StrokeCog Platform will add additional value to our programming through the development of experiential translational workshops, where trainees will have hands-on interactive exposure to ongoing clinical research in active trial settings at partnering academic institutions. Workshops will be in a one or multi-day format, and trainees will visit labs at institution(s) near the conference location and have hands-on exposure to trial protocols, and interact with the clinical trials team and patient participants.
Cross-Sectoral Professional Development Roundtables
StrokeCog will offer a unique learning experience in the form of cross-sectoral professional development roundtables. Trainees will work directly with multisectoral transdisciplinary partners to develop individualized, customizable training paths for the acquisition of skills relevant to industries, government or non-profit organizations, that will enhance their employability and career prospects.
Clinical Trial Observership Exchange Program
StrokeCog will develop a new clinical trials observership exchange program, where trainees from all levels of the clinical trials team will be eligible to apply for an exchange with another Pan-Canadian Clinical Trials Consortium funded clinical trial team to observe trial conduct and delivery in different trial settings. Trainees will be offered experiential learning exposure to different trial designs, recruitment pathways, management structures and data governance practices to give them new perspectives on the design and conduct of clinical trials across different health care settings and with different interventions and clinical teams.
These will provide trainees with an experiential training opportunity to observe and learn trials governance via observerships with the Executive Committees of ongoing trials and trial consortiums, including the Canadian Stroke Consortium and the Pan-Canadian Clinical Trials Consortium.
Participants will be eligible to attend Executive and/or Steering Committee meetings as shadow observers to learn trials governance structure, process and decision-making. These observerships will be essential to ensure that rising clinical trial leaders not only learn best practices for clinical trial design and management but also learn trial governance, specifically within the context of large trials consortiums.