Making Connections Between Clinical Trials and the Exam Room

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By Angela M. Chen, OD, MS, FAAO, associate professor at Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) at Marshall B. Ketchum University and vice chair of the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) network


I first learned about PEDIG as a resident at SCCO and became an associate investigator during my residency. This opportunity opened the door for me to see how clinical trials are developed and conducted. I am honored to be a part of this network, consisted of many pediatric optometrists and pediatric ophthalmologists, who put their time and effort into making the clinical trials possible. The results of the PEDIG studies have influenced what I teach to students at SCCO and optometrists at CE, and most importantly have changed clinical practice.

During my early involvement with PEDIG, investigators were enrolling patients for two amblyopia studies and my recruitment effort was recognized by the PEDIG leadership. Subsequently I had the opportunities to serve as a member in the Executive Committee, Writing Committees, and Planning Committees for new study protocols. I found my PEDIG work to be professionally and personally rewarding and thus I decided to apply for the vice chair position with the hope to increase my involvement in the PEDIG network.

Mentor’s guidance

I must give credit to Sue Cotter, OD, MS, who has a big influence on my career. Dr. Cotter has been involved in the PEDIG network since its inception and held the role of vice chair for the PEDIG network at the time when I became a PEDIG investigator; she was instrumental to many young ODs, including me. She did an excellent job representing optometrists in the network, making sure that optometry was included whenever opportunities arose.

Working toward goal

I gain so much from being a part of the PEDIG network, especially from my colleagues who are so generous offering their opinions, comments and suggestions. There is a unique harmony in the network between the optometrists and ophthalmologists. Here in the network, we have a common goal, which is to perform clinical trials to answer many questions we have when we provide patient care, with the hope to provide better care for our pediatric population. We can share why we make certain actions, as supported by clinical trial or we can change our practices when they are not supported by the evidence. In my role as the PEDIG vice chair and the SCCO faculty, I hope to emulate the impact that Dr. Cotter has on the profession, as a mentor, leader and advocate for optometry.