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The Wright Center

The VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research provides the infrastructure for the physical research space utilized by this project. The Wright Center was established in 2007 to foster and support interdisciplinary human health research at Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health by providing the infrastructure and resources that researchers need to accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into patient care. The center is funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) through April 2030, the Wright Foundation, other private donors and VCU. The Wright Center is led by the VCU associate vice president for clinical research, F. Gerald Moeller, M.D., who is the contact PI for this application, under the direction of the VCU vice president for research and innovation, P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D.


Clinical Research Unit

The Clinical Research Unit (CRU) at VCU Medical Center was established in 1962 as a general clinical research center and has operated continuously since then. The facility was renovated in 1997 with funds provided by the National Center for Research Resources and the VCU health system. It occupies 10,000 square feet of space in the centrally located North Hospital, a Joint Commission-approved facility. Current CRU capability for outpatient care includes three exam rooms, rooms for specialized testing, interview spaces, and infusion chairs. Inpatient care resources include a telemetry-capable metabolic chamber, a nurse manager, nurse clinician, RNs, LPNs, a registered bio-nutritionist and administrative support. In addition to providing infrastructure for clinical research, the CRU has been important in attracting new faculty at all levels. The CRU has been the site for multiple Phase I clinical trials in addictions, including trials with intravenous cocaine administration and opioid administration. The CRU has a full-time cardiologist available on site to assist with Phase I clinical trials.

Collaborative Advanced Research Imaging facility

The Wright Center’s Collaborative Advanced Research Imaging (CARI) facility has over 6,000 square feet of research-dedicated space. Equipment includes a research-dedicated 3T Philips Ingenia MRI scanner with highly sensitive Philips’ DirectDigital processing, purchased by VCU. The scanner was recently upgraded to accelerate fMRI or DTI (DWI) sequences by means of multi-band RF slice excitation and MB SENSE decoding during reconstruction, which is being utilized by the multi-site ABCD project. The CARI facility also has a mock scanner, urine drug screen collection facility, multiple interview rooms, sound attenuated testing chambers for human behavioral laboratory testing, a physical exam room with ECG, and a dispensary for medication storage and dispensing (see floorplan below). CARI administrative space on the second floor includes offices for faculty, workstations for trainees, and a video conference room. The Brain imaging Analysis Laboratory (BAL) is two floors up from the imaging and research space and includes 6 Sun workstations, 5 Dell workstations running Linux, 4 Dell Workstations running Windows, and 4 Apple Power Mac computers as well as an automated backup system to ensure data security. Software used in the BAL includes SPM, AFNI and FSL. Training and support for investigators in MR imaging who utilize the CARI program is provided.

Programs and Systems

C. Kenneth Wright Biomedical Informatics Program

In June of 2018, the Wright Center’s longtime benefactor, C. Kenneth Wright donated $5 million to establish the Wright Biomedical Informatics Program. A portion of this funding was utilized to establish a 6,600 square foot office to bring together scattered biomedical informatics resources under one roof, in the same building as the CARI facility. In addition, funding was provided to expand faculty, staff and trainees in biomedical informatics, building on the biomedical informatics program supporting VCU’s Clinical and Translational Science Award hub.

EHR Data Mining

The current Research Data Warehouse includes data from multiple disparate data sources, which include registration, appointment scheduling, hospital billing, professional billing, and clinical data from the electronic medical records. Data extractions run nightly and load replicated data from these systems into the Research Data Warehouse. Special data marts have been created to support research teams. These data marts allow each of these teams to access the data required for research, as well as extending the capability to build customized subject matter areas. Our Cognos query interface includes a semantic layer over the Research Data Warehouse, which includes 1.29 million distinct patients and 17.6 million encounters, with clinical data available since 2004.

Electronic Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS)

VCU has established OnCore as the enterprise-wide management system for VCU clinical research. OnCore is a web-enabled clinical research management system. It provides a centralized database and uses role-based security to control access to study data. OnCore is integrated with Cerner, VCU's electronic health records, to alert clinicians of participation in research studies and researchers of clinical activities like possible Adverse Events. OnCore collects study, participant, and procedure data to increase participant safety, provide accurate institutional metrics, improve research billing compliance, and increase sponsor funded cost recovery.

OnCore can collect subject study data through electronic Case Report Forms (eCRFs). These forms are tied to the subject calendar and will be made available to the coordinator for data entry as visits are marked as occurred. eCRFs may opt to include Data Validation components that can increase the quality of data entry. Centralized form creation provides an extra layer of oversight and standardization. Access to eCRF data is controlled through unique usernames and role-based security. It provides a centralized database and uses role-based security to control access to study data. OnCore falls under the 'VCU Affiliated Covered Entity' which allows access to PHI through the 'conduct of standard business operations'. This access is provided through the HIPAA Authorization. As this study relates to medical treatment, a minimum amount of PHI will be collected in OnCore to support internal VCU processes relating to participant safety and accurate study billing.

Clinical Resources

VCU Health System (VCUHS)

VCUHS is the teaching hospital component of the VCU Medical Center, including outpatient clinics and a 600-physician faculty group practice. VCUHS is a regional referral center and Virginia’s largest single provider of indigent care. The Hospital has 755 licensed beds, approximately 20% of the Richmond inpatient market. In fall 2008, VCU opened the $184 million Critical Care Hospital, a 15-level, 367,000 square-foot facility. This building has 232 adult patient beds, most of which are private, with technology designed to dramatically enhance patient care and research capability. VCU Medical Center records over 31,000 admissions and more than 650,000 outpatient visits each year. Over half of the outpatient and inpatient discharges are African-American. Over 85,000 patients are treated annually in the hospital’s Emergency Department, the region’s only Level I Trauma Center and one of the busiest emergency rooms in the Mid-Atlantic. The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU earned a designation as Virginia’s first Level 1 pediatric trauma center from the American College of Surgeons in July 2013. The VCU Medical Center practices nearly 200 specialty areas and has received international recognition for early diagnosis and treatment of chest pain and strokes; organ transplant; head and spinal cord trauma research; burn and wound healing; neonatal intensive care; palliative care; women’s health care; addiction medicine; and genetic research as well as cancer research, treatment, and rehabilitation.


The multidisciplinary outpatient addiction (MOTIVATE) clinic is VCUHS’ outpatient addiction treatment program. The clinic is located 0.5 miles from CARI and the VCUHS Emergency Department. The clinic is staffed by several addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry physicians, as well as NPs, residents, and fellows. MOTIVATE is designated as a preferred office based opioid treatment program (OBOT) by Virginia Medicaid. The behavioral therapy program at MOTIVATE is overseen by licensed psychologists and social workers. MOTIVATE sees over 500 patients per month, with the majority of these patients in medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. MOTIVATE is overseen by the division of addiction psychiatry within VCU, which is under the direction of Drs. F. Gerard Moeller and Albert Arias.


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Last updated April 26, 2024