Dr. Steven Leichter, Endocrine Consultants, P.C.
I am Dr. Jeff Kingsley and this is another edition of Riding in Cars With Researchers! Today we are interviewing Dr. Steven Leichter. Dr. Leichter is an old friend of mine and, in fact, he was a teacher of mine. He has been doing research for years and years and years.
Expanding His Knowledge Base
Dr. Leichter, tell the audience a little bit about your background.
Well, I’ve been doing this a long time! I graduated from medical school in 1970 and I am an endocrinologist. I always wanted to be an endocrinologist. I was a strange kid and wanted to be an endocrinologist since I was 5 years old. I think God had three callings for me and one of them was that because I’ve enjoyed it more and more every day that I do it. Research, to me, is part of that, especially as an endocrinologist because as most people know, endocrinology is a very contemplative specialty of medicine. One of the key points to be an endocrinologist, and to do a good job for your patients, is to try and keep your skills and knowledge at the highest level possible. For me, that means having an understanding of the latest developments, the latest concepts, the latest directions that are going in my area of medicine. Research has always been a way of doing that for me. When you do research, it’s not just the process and technical part of doing it, but it’s the fact you have to become very knowledgeable about the area you do research and learn about the specific questions that research is going to investigate and that helps you to understand a little more about what more broad or general questions are associated with that. For me, it’s been something that has helped expand my knowledge base and keep my skills up to date.
Experience in Clinical Research
How long ago did you first get involved in research?
I published my first paper in research in 1974. For me, it’s the process of doing it to expand my knowledge base.
You do research to expand your knowledge base. Why else?
For me, it’s the whole part of the process of being an endocrinologist. Endocrinology is one of the most contemplative areas of medicine as I said, and that means you have to be very knowledgeable about the different questions coming up, how the different concepts in endocrinology are changing in research. For me, it’s the way to stay the most up to date in that knowledge.
I agree. I feel that research should be part of being a doctor. It enhances who you are as a physician, it enhances your knowledge, and should be part and parcel and everyone should participate in research in my opinion.
I think one other thing it does for me is that it allows me to develop the skills I need to be able to judge published research and claims folks may be making about treatments in an objective and analytical way.
How Has Research Changed?
So what has changed over the years? How has researched changed?
It really has not changed a lot for me. I think the processes we should have in research have become more formalized. I think there has been a greater emphasis on patient safety, on patient rights, on the responsibilities that the investigator takes on when he/she asks the patient to be part of the research process. For me, I think that is good because not only are we protecting people and making sure they have the best experience they can to participate in research. And it also protects me and the staff. Anytime I have a monitor call me up and say “I don’t think you did this right” or to tell me to develop more paperwork about this situation to make sure it is clear as to what you did. They always think I’m going to become upset about that and the actual truth is I think they are on my side. Because they are making me become more detailed in considering the position of the patient, of the process of doing the research on that patient.
What still needs to change? If you had a magic wand and could make research better, what would that look like?
I think, sometimes, there are so many different groups involved in one research project that it becomes too many hands in the broth. You start getting all kinds of urgent demands for details or for document changes that may not always be appropriate. We have one project that we are doing now where there are 4 different groups involved in managing this research project. A patient situation came up where there was a question of was this an adverse event – did we report the adverse event correctly. I think that the decision that was made by the research sponsor fulfills the notion that if you give something to an academic committee they will prove that a horse was made by an academic committee. So that became very cumbersome but I understood their position. They wanted to make sure everyone, including us and the patient, was protected.
But despite all the trials and tribulations, you still do it. You are still passionate about research.
I think there are some things in research that have kept me young, kept me active, and hopefully, I’m as skilled as I ever was. Thank you very much for riding along! Get involved!
Send me topics you want me to talk about at email@example.com!
Subscribe to our blog HERE