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NIH honors OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s David Dilts for system to improve clinical trial recruitment

Dilts will receive a 2011 National Institutes of Health Director’s Award for his role in developing AccrualNet

David Dilts, Ph.D., M.B.A., a professor in the Division of Management at Oregon Health & Science University and a member of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute management team, received a 2011 group merit award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his role in developing AccrualNet, a Web-based system designed to help researchers navigate the process for recruiting participants to NIH clinical trials. The NIH Director’s Award is a symbol of achievement in aiding the research community.

Dilts and the other co-developers of AccrualNet were recently honored with the award during a ceremony in Bethesda, Md.

“It is gratifying to see David Dilts’ work on this project receive such a prestigious award,” said Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “Improving the speed of completing clinical trials is crucial to accelerating progress against cancer, especially as cancer treatments become more specialized.”

One of Dilts’ responsibilities within the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is to help foster national efforts to streamline clinical trials to help advance personalized cancer medicine. The institute is committed to finding new ways to improve the productivity of clinical trials so that more drugs can be developed to target the specific mutations in each patient’s tumor without impacting healthy cells — a field of cancer treatment that Druker pioneered.  

Dilts helped design AccrualNet to serve as a clearinghouse for knowledge on how to successfully conduct NIH clinical trials as well as provide a community of practice. AccrualNet includes recruitment resources, information on trial strategies, training opportunities and decision-making tools. The system should ultimately improve participation in clinical trials by making it easier for investigators to gather information as they plan to recruit eligible patients. It also provides a platform through which researchers can share ideas, lessons learned and solutions with other colleagues conducting clinical trials.

“I am honored to be recognized by the NIH along with my colleagues on this project,” Dilts said. “It was a team effort that required many important contributions. My role was to provide expertise in looking at the total problem and not just pieces of it.”

AccrualNet addresses a critical need in development of new cancer treatments by focusing on how to design and execute studies that patients both need and will enroll in. 

Before joining the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute in 2009, Dilts was the founding director of the Engineering Management Program and co-director of the Center for Management Research in Health Care at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. This research center is now located with the Knight Cancer Institute.

Prior his time at Vanderbilt, Dilts served for 14 years as a professor of management sciences, faculty of engineering, and a professor in optometry, faculty of science, at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Previous to that he served as an assistant professor of operations management at Michigan State University.

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