A Week in the Life of the Research Navigator

Mar 31 2016

A Week in the Life of the Research Navigator


By Katherine Yang-Iott

Research NavigatorEditor’s Note: Here on Cornerstone, in addition to sharing new research findings, from time to time we try to bring you more glimpses behind the scenes of how research happens at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. Our guest blogger for today’s post supports research behind the scenes in a fairly unique way: In February, Katherine Yang-Iott became the first person in the newly defined role of Research Navigator at CHOP, serving the entire Research Institute. The new Navigator role is intended to provide concierge-style service for investigators and research staff, facilitating research processes, and coordinating opportunities for improvement. It is a complex job that connects to a lot of people and projects. A great way to get a sense of how it works is to hear from the navigator herself. We asked her to rip a virtual page from her agenda to show readers the scope of activities that her role covers in a typical week, and to tell us why this effort matters to the shared goal of improving the health of children.

My background is in basic laboratory research. I worked with Craig Bassing, PhD, in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine for almost a decade. After recently completing the Research Administration Fellowship through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, I am now working in the Clinical Research Support Office (CRSO) in this important role as Research Navigator. My goal is to provide support for all research faculty and staff (basic/lab and clinical research) at CHOP by facilitating interactions and communications between research teams and research administration. Working together, we can promote a collaborative environment that focuses on efforts that make all of our jobs easier. Here’s a look at one week in my life as the Navigator.


9 a.m.: Weekly Meeting with Manager

Attendee: Jennifer Goldfarb, Director of CRSO

It’s important for us to be able to bounce ideas off one another and to review feedback since the Navigator role is new, and we are still discovering best ways to provide service.

11 a.m.: EPIC Research Conference Call

Attendees: Clinical research nurse coordinators, business analysts, Clinical Research Financial Management, Institutional Review Board, and security analysts

I am constantly learning about new projects and improvements in the Research Institute. On this call, a team is working together to resolve access issues with the EPIC Research module, our e-system that manages patient information (electronic medical records). Research Navigator

2 p.m.: Women’s History Month Subcommittee

Attendees: Cultural Awareness Council (CAC) members: Becki Fogerty, Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Erin James and Chloe Gold, Internal Communications

I represent the Research Institute on the CAC. We are working on identifying and highlighting inspiring women at CHOP. Today, we are discussing our interview and article about Brenda Gwafila featured in the CHOP employee email “This Week@CHOP” (and also on the Cornerstone blog). It’s nice that this also doubles as a bonus outdoor coffee break.


8 a.m.: Process Improvement Meeting: Sponsor Questionnaires

Attendees: Cathy Beech and Al Wilson, Information Security; and Christa Seidman, Clinical Research Regulatory Coordinator

One of my first process improvement projects is working with Christa on a master document to address questions about CHOP information systems and security. This would be useful to any clinical research coordinator (CRC) who must provide this type of information on a sponsor (research funder) questionnaire during the study’s start-up phase. We are currently collaborating on centralizing these documents and sources of information to be easily accessible for all.

10 a.m.: Review New Faculty Onboarding Questionnaire

I proactively reach out to new CHOP faculty to introduce myself, my role, and offer any assistance needed to navigate research resources. I learn about new faculty from the onboarding questionnaire for new faculty members who need lab/office space. Howard Eck, director of Research Resources, manages the questionnaire and sends completed forms to key contacts in each Research Administration Office. My information is provided on the forms, but I make the effort to connect personally.


9 a.m.: Meet and Greet at Research Poster Day Expo

Attendees: Research Staff and Research Administration, Jennifer Swope, CRC

Co-manning the CRSO table at a major CHOP Research event with my teammate, Jennifer, we meet and greet potential clients, new investigators, research staff, and members of the Research Cores (specialized shared facilities and resources that any CHOP researchers can use). Reaching out and making connections is huge for me. I want people to know about the Research Navigator. I want to be useful, and I know that I can help.

3 p.m.: Expanding Reach of Biostatistics and Data Management Core (BDMC)

Attendees: Ken Gerald, Justine Shults, Julie Pappas, and Linda Sprouse

We are brainstorming ideas on how to expand the reach of BDMC so CHOP investigators can use their statistical services more effectively. Working with Jennifer Long in Research Communications, BDMC is putting together a Q&A article for the Research Digest newsletter sent weekly to all CHOP research faculty and staff.


9 a.m.: Keeping in Touch with Research Information Systems (RIS)

Attendees: Andy Farella, Mike Schulz, Bob Del Campo, Scott Glasser, and Allen Ladd

RIS is an administrative office that interacts with everyone at the Research Institute. I meet with them on a regular basis so that we can exchange information. Research Navigator

11 a.m.: Connecting with CHOP Enterprise Community Relations and Government Affairs

Attendees: Sara Gibbons, Amanda Evans, and Michele Ryan

People who work in administrative and clinical areas at CHOP outside of research (what we call “CHOP enterprise” in shorthand) are usually very curious to learn more about the Research Institute. The goal is to learn about each other and find ways to support one another.

2 p.m.: Shadowing Clinical Research Nurse Coordinators (CRNC) in the CRSO

Attendees: Jamie Koh and Susan Becker

I am starting to understand the steps and processes our CRNCs encounter so that I can help address problems and help develop solutions. Their jobs are essential to the success of clinical studies.


Research Navigator

10 a.m.: Professional Society for Pediatric Clinical Research (PROSPER) Web Subcommittee Meeting

Attendees: Devaney Camburn, Brenda Gwafila, Chris Gantz, and Debbie Foerster

One of the main goals of this professional association made up of CHOP clinical research personnel is to serve as a central information exchange between clinical researchers and the CHOP community. Since that is also one of my main goals, I have joined their web and educational committees.

12 p.m.: Yoga

Attendees: CRSO team

Taking time from a busy week to de-stress and focus on my breath at the CRSO weekly yoga class. Jennifer says that if people don’t take care of themselves, they are no good at work. I can’t argue with that.

3 p.m.: Strategic Plan Committee: Recruitment, Retention, and Onboarding Subcommittee

Attendees: Dave Taylor, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs; Elaine Gallagher, Department of Pediatrics; Kathryn Roberts, Nursing Administration; Kristy Arbogast, Center for Injury Research and Prevention

As part of the Research Institute’s strategic planning process, we’re discussing ways to improve on support systems to build a stronger foundation of support for junior faculty.

4 p.m.: Finishing up the Week

I make some quick notes to myself for next week and sync my calendars. Then it’s time to shift gears and go pick up my kids for our usual Friday night: pizza and a movie.

All Day, All Week: Helping Clients and Improving Processes

Most people contact me by phone or email. I’m constantly following up on cases and seeking solutions for new queries and am in the process of establishing an intake process in order to create and track helpful data about my work. CHOP investigators and research staff who need assistance or have any questions are always welcome to reach me at navigator@email.chop.edu or extension 44628.