Erin Ricketts, Senior Research Program Manager

Erin Ricketts

Erin Ricketts says that her team of research assistants gives her joy in her position as senior research program manager in the school of medicine.

You have been with Johns Hopkins University for several years. Tell me about your current position.

I am a senior research program manager in the school of medicine. I support the research programs in the Department of Emergency Medicine. In that role, I am involved with clinical trials and other research studies, from the study startup—working with the drug companies/sponsor to create the study procedures and training protocols—to the time the study comes onsite at Hopkins. I manage the 20 or so research assistants in the Emergency Department (ED), who are the ones that screen and enroll people into the studies.

Our team also runs the HIV and Hepatitis C ED based testing programs. Our research assistants offer and give complimentary HIV and HCV point-of-care tests to the patients coming into the ED. It’s really rewarding when you have a patient who came to the ED for something unrelated and test positive; our staff help link that person to care and potentially cure them.

How did you get to Hopkins?

I have a master's of science in public health, focus in epidemiology from the University of South Carolina. I knew I wanted a job at an academic institution and started looking at Johns Hopkins because I thought it was prestigious and a little closer to my home state of Rhode Island. I got a job in the school of public health as a data analyst. After about eight to nine years there, I worked as a research program manager between Radiology/Cardiology. About two years ago, I got a promotional opportunity to my current job. I don’t see myself ever working anywhere else!

How does your job impact our mission with regard to research and patient care?

We have about 15 research studies/programs based in the ED and they are helping people live longer and healthier. Without this research that we do at Johns Hopkins University, I think people just would not live as long.

Give me an example of some of the studies underway.

We have one study that is related to infectious diseases. We collect plasma specimens from individuals presenting to the Emergency Department who are at increased risk of acute hepatitis or retrovirus infection. These specimens are intended to support research and development of advanced tests for hepatitis C, hepatitis B, HIV and concomitant infections.

There is another study that is a clinical trial. A patient comes into the ED with cellulitis, a skin infection. Their typical treatment course would be IV antibiotics over three days as an inpatient. Scientists are testing an IV drug that you would get and then be released from the ED the same day. If approved by the FDA, we could potentially not have to admit patients to the hospital for cellulitis.

We are also enrolling for a clinical trial for hospitalized patients with sepsis. These patients will receive the regular best care available for sepsis, and half of the patients will additionally receive vitamin C, thiamine and hydrocortisone. The purpose is to see if the group of patients that got the combination of medications did better than the group that did not.

What brings you joy at work?

Working with my research team. Most of our research assistants are right out of college and this is their first full-time job. I get a lot of satisfaction in seeing somebody that I taught or mentored grow. To see that person work here for one or two years and then go on to med school and become a doctor, which many do, gives me a lot of satisfaction. I also have many go on for advanced degrees in Public Health. I feel like we are running a training program for new graduates per se, and their time in the ED helps prepare them to go to either nursing school, medical school, or graduate school of another type.

I like to foster an independent environment. But, my employees know that I'm always here to help them and guide them. I felt really proud when I saw my Gallup scores this summer. I value my staff and with those scores, I see they value me, too. I feel the same way about my boss, who is an attending in the ED and is the PI on many of these above mentioned studies. This all makes for great joy in the workplace!

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1 Comment

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Mary Rode September 1, 2018 at 7:32 am

Congratulations, Erin! It is a pleasure working with you. Mary


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