GZ: Let’s start early in your career. While much of your experience has been in academic medicine and healthcare, you actually spent three years early in your career as an investigator with the City of Chicago Inspector General’s Office. Tell us how that came to be and how it affected your early career.
JC: My focus of study in college was political science and public policy and administration, and I was very interested and engaged in politics and the idea of integrity in public service. It was the mission of the Inspector General’s Office that appealed to me—identifying and preventing fraud, inefficiency, and waste in government. My problem-solving and analytical skills—and natural curiosity of wanting to figure things out—ended up being a good match for the investigation-related work of the office. The work, and the backgrounds of the people I worked with, encompassed a mix of legal and law enforcement areas, and I learned an incredible amount about how government operates, how to examine and apply regulatory requirements, and how to conduct investigations. Fully gathering and documenting the facts and exploring a situation from every angle was critical to success in bringing forth a solid case, and the need for that level of excruciating attention to detail and thorough analysis and documentation has stayed with me from this very formative experience in my first job out of college. It was tough, however, working on the enforcement side, as you’re inevitably focused on the bad actors and constantly exposed to the negative side of human nature and behavior.
GZ: Since those early days in the Inspector General’s Office, your positions have primarily been in research institutions. Was there anything in particular that first drew you to research? And as a follow-up, what is it about research that keeps you in it?
JC: It was the appeal of a nonprofit mission seeking to advance public good through education, discovery, and healthcare that drew me to the higher education, academic medicine, and healthcare space. I had an opportunity in a university research integrity and compliance office early on in my career; while I didn’t have specific knowledge or expertise in this area at the time, I did have experience in regulatory analysis and application of compliance frameworks. Over time, I expanded the breadth and depth of my knowledge in the various areas of research compliance and advanced to broader compliance roles in the healthcare arena. I truly enjoy association with the research programs of institutions, because this is where innovation abounds most prevalently—the origin of new ideas, and the translation of these ideas into discoveries and treatments that can benefit society in so many ways.
Research lives in a complicated regulatory environment. Supporting institutions and researchers in navigating the multitude of requirements in order to facilitate sound, safe, and ethical research is how I have felt professionally and personally satisfied in terms of involvement in an institution’s research mission. Institutions must have specific policies and procedures in place to receive federal research funding and to advance treatments, products, and solutions through the regulatory approval processes necessary to actually reach patients. I’ve enjoyed becoming acclimated to the various requirements in order to support ensuring that the collective “we” (i.e., institution and researchers) are in a position to be able to fulfill our mission.
GZ: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) has been a highly regarded institution for many years. While the quality of its care and research are the most obvious contributors, another element of maintaining such a good reputation is its compliance program. How does it factor in the reputational risks that come along with the risk of compliance failures?