logo_vumcThe Recruitment Innovation Center will aim to become a successful, evidence based Center in recruitment and retention strategies in order to improve both the quality of future clinical trials and to raise awareness of the value of research thereby increasing trial enrollment and health outcomes across America.

Principal Investigators

paul-harris-1Paul Harris, PhD

Vanderbilt University
Director, Vanderbilt Office of Research Informatics

Professor of Biomedical Informatics
Research Professor of Biomedical Engineering

consueloConsuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI

Vanderbilt University
Executive Director, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Associate Professor of Medicine
Co-Director, Meharry-Vanderbilt Community-Engaged Research Core

What is the Recruitment Innovation Center (RIC)?
  • We are an evidenced based center in innovative trial recruitment and retention methods, tools and strategies.
  • Our goal is to work with researchers to improve participant recruitment and retention and in doing so, improve health outcomes. We also aim to raise national awareness of opportunities for the public to be involved in health studies.
  • We have specialist expertise in informatics and the science of engagement and are supported by our partners at Columbia University, The Ohio State, Rockefeller University, The Regenstrief Institute and the University of Utah.
  • An important part of our work is focused on how we can better support researchers to recruit and retain individuals from underrepresented groups in research.
  • We are part of a larger network - the Trial Innovation Network - a collaborative initiative across all CTSAs, aimed at improving the quality of clinical trials.
Approach To Providing RIC Support

We work in partnership with researchers/study teams to provide tailored support and advice. Investigators and study teams can either apply for initial consultations or specific RIC services. During an initial consultation, we will work with the study team and the relevant experts to trouble shoot, provide advice, guidance and recommendations. Study teams are awarded between 8-10 hours of RIC time for initial consults.

In addition to initial consultations, we are currently providing the following 5 core services:

  • Feasibility assessment;
  • Community engagement studio;
  • Recruitment planning;
  • Recruitment materials;
  • EHR cohort assessment.

 We will tailor our support around your needs – this includes agreeing specific areas of focus and basing our recommendations/advice on the specific recruitment and retention challenges associated with your study.

About RIC Services - What are they and what can researchers expect?

Feasibility assessment

Clinical trial feasibility is the process of evaluating the possibility of conducting a clinical trial in a particular geographical region with the overall objective of optimum project completion in terms of timelines, targets and cost. Together with your recruitment plan, we will consider ways that you can improve the feasibility of your study. As part of our service we will:

·         Comprehensively review the details of your study;

·         Assess the likelihood of meeting predefined recruitment and retention goals;

·         Provide tailored advice on how you can enhance the feasibility of your study.

Recruitment Planning

An effective recruitment plan brings together how to target and engage specific population(s) of relevance for a trial including how to communicate and market a study in order to incentivize potential participants and meet realistic enrollment and retention goals.

As part of our service we will:

·         Comprehensively review your recruitment plan in the context of your study;

·         Assess the likelihood of meeting predefined recruitment and retention goals;

·         Give tailored advice and recommendations on the most appropriate recruitment strategies to deploy when engaging participants from any community.

Community engagement studio

A community engagement studio is a structured approach to engagement that allows meaningful involvement of diverse groups of stakeholders. Studios can be used to facilitate project-specific input including providing guidance and recommendations on how to develop or refine recruitment materials and messages. As part of our service we will:

·         Assess whether a community engagement studio might be appropriate based on the needs of your study and if so, where a studio has the potential to add the most value;

·         If a community engagement studio is not an option, to work with you to consider other approaches to patient and community engagement that might be useful for your study.

·         Provide guidance and recommendations on how a studio may be used to develop and refine study messaging, materials and recruitment approached.

Recruitment materials service

Recruitment materials can include any written or verbal communication delivered via a range of multimedia channels and platforms aimed at increasing enrollment. As part of our service, we will:

·         Review your recruitment material needs including any dissemination plans;

·         Provide advice, recommendations and templates in order to improve the recruitment of potential participants for specific studies;

·         Share best practice.

EHR cohort assessment

EHR-Based Cohort Assessment is about optimizing electronic health record information to determine potential populations in and across different trial sites.

As part of our service we will:

·         Explore ways that Electronic Health Record data may be leveraged to inform study design and potential site selection.

·         You can expect expert clinical and technical review of a study’s goal recruitment population and a high level assessment of computable phenotyping.


·         Funded projects may also petition and receive support required to organize distribution of phenotype algorithms to potential CTSA hubs and collation of results.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.      Does the RIC only accept NIH funded trials?

  • NIH funded studies will receive priority but other funding agencies could be considered.

2.      Can we get letters of support from the RIC?

  • The RIC can provide letters of support for those studies that are successfully awarded support by the proposal assessment team.

3.      How can researchers apply for RIC support?

  • Researchers should visit

4.      How do we measure whether a new technique/strategy/tool is impactful/successful?


5.      What impact is the RIC making?