FIRST Program

Supporting Surgeon Investigators


The FIRST Program

The Department of Surgery has a long and proud history of introducing innovative improvements in the care of surgical patients through clinical research. These advances include the development of peritoneal dialysis and the implantable pacemaker, to cite just two.

To continue to advance scientific discovery and foster the translation of research into clinical practice to improve patients’ lives, in 2017 the Department of Surgery established the FIRST (Facilitating Innovative Research and Surgical Trials) Program.

The FIRST Program offers an accessible, robust research infrastructure to provide current and emerging surgeon-investigators in the Department of Surgery with the expertise, resources, assistance, and support they need to conduct clinical research in today’s increasingly complex environment.

Developed and led by James Rodrigue, PhD, Vice Chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Surgery, FIRST offers a comprehensive range of customized, essential services, all of which are designed to make it as easy and efficient as possible for Surgery faculty and trainees to pursue clinical research. Support may be as straightforward as answering a question to providing hands-on assistance with managing the myriad tasks associated with study design, implementation, and analysis.

FIRST’s services are provided by a team of dedicated clinical research staff with extensive experience in all facets of clinical research. This team serves as a formal liaison between the Department of Surgery’s clinical research programs and BIDMC’s regulatory bodies, including the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Office of Human Research Protections, and Clinical Trials Office, among others.

FIRST’s services include:

  • Protocol development
  • IRB navigation, document submission, audit readiness
  • Survey development and validation
  • Regulatory guidance
  • Research mentorship and guidance
  • Database building
  • Human subjects protection training
  • Data collection, coding, and validation
  • Subject screening and recruitment
  • Manuscript and grant writing; pre-submission grant application review
  • Research staff education and training
  • Identification of funding opportunities
  • Industry communications
  • Sample processing and storage
  • Biostatistics consultation

To learn more about FIRST staff and services, or to submit an online request, visit the FIRST Program website at or email us at