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UAMS employees Carrie Chiaro (center) and Melisa Clark (right) co-chair the Arkansas chapter of SOCRA. Amy Jo Jenkins (left) is a past co-chair and has been elected to SOCRA’s Board of Directors.

For a record fifth year in a row, the Arkansas chapter of the international Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA) has been recognized for ensuring the highest quality research by providing the most continuing education hours of any chapter. The annual Chapter Chairperson Recognition Award was presented to Carrie Chiaro, M.P.H., C.C.R.P., from the UAMS Office of Research Compliance, who co-chairs the SOCRA chapter with Melisa Clark, M.S., C.C.R.P., from the UAMS Office of Research Regulatory Affairs.

SOCRA Executive Director Erich Lukas, MBA, said the Arkansas chapter is the only one of 63 volunteer chapters to win the award five consecutive years.

“The success of the Arkansas chapter is a testimony to the support from Arkansas’ research institutions, the dedication of the chapter’s leaders, and the commitment of the chapter’s program participants,” Lukas said.

SOCRA chapters offer no-cost clinical research continuing education to enhance research quality, to protect research participants, and to improve the health of the global community.

Also during the annual meeting in Montreal, Amy Jo Jenkins, M.S., C.C.R.P., C.C.R.A., C.C.R.C., from the UAMS Translational Research Institute, was elected to the SOCRA Board of Directors. Jenkins, a past chapter chairperson, said the chapter’s continued success is due to the participation, collaboration, and common goals of the state’s research professionals.

“UAMS’ support, particularly from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the Translational Research Institute, Office of Research Regulatory Affairs, and the Office of Research Compliance, has allowed the chapter to flourish over the last five years,” Jenkins said. “While the award is technically given to one person, we know that it is our whole membership and those that support us that contribute to our success.”

The Arkansas chapter provided 22 continuing education credit hours from June 1, 2015, to May 31, 2016.

“The continuing education we provide ultimately improves the quality of research in our state and enhances the experience and protection of our valued participants,” Jenkins said.

Carrie Chiaro (right) accepted the award on behalf of the SOCRA chapter during the group’s annual meeting in Montreal.

Carrie Chiaro (right) accepted the award on behalf of the SOCRA chapter during the group’s annual meeting in Montreal.

The chapter also provides an avenue for career growth and development, including training and resources for new research staff and the opportunity to earn an accredited professional certification (Certified Clinical Research Professional – CCRP) that is recognized internationally by the clinical research industry as evidence of advanced competency in the profession.

The continuing education hours offered by the Arkansas SOCRA chapter also help research staff at UAMS and other sites earn or maintain their Certified Research Specialist (CRS) certification. The CRS certification program, administered by the UAMS Office of Research Compliance, ensures an understanding of, and respect for, the principles of research integrity and the protection of those who participate in research. Although the certification is not required by all departments, UAMS research employees routinely complete the 26 hours of coursework and the comprehensive CRS proficiency exam.