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Kost develops innovative strategies, infrastructure, and service models to accelerate the design and safe, ethical conduct of translational research. She has broadened approaches to enhance engagement of diverse populations into research through a research volunteer repository and a collaborative community-engaged research navigation model. The model process fosters research partnerships between basic scientists and communities, and enables projects that incorporate the priorities of multiple stakeholders. Kost also creates tools and measures to improve participant experiences, recruitment, and research integrity.

Kost’s work focuses on creating data-driven assessments and novel measures of the research process, so-called “research-on-research.” She led a 15-center collaboration that developed a suite of validated participant-centered measures of informed consent, trust, and other aspects of research participation, now adopted at centers across the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) institutions, and the subject of a recent award to streamline broad adoption for local and national benchmarking. Kost is applying these measures to evaluate approaches to broad consent in genomics research, and other aspects of human protections. She also developed a simple measure of the timeliness of study accrual, the Accrual Index, to normalize inter-protocol and inter-institutional comparisons of study enrollment methods. The CTSA Consortium recently adopted the Accrual Index as a common metric. The community-engaged research navigation process has produced sustainable partnerships that effectively joined basic researchers with patients, clinicians, and public health collaborators in externally funded projects to address antibiotic-resistant infections, healthy aging, and the impact of nutrition on pregnancy outcomes in teens. As a unifying theme across her work, Kost is exploring broad application of the Causal Pathway approach, a modification of logic modeling that measures the impact, in evaluating innovations in research and research process.

In addition to conducting research-on-research, Kost chairs the Action Committee for Community Engaged Research, facilitates ethics discussions in the Responsible Conduct of Research course, lectures in the Certificate in Clinical and Translational Research course, and serves as vice-chair of the Institutional Review Board. She is also director of the Clinical Research Support Office and co-director of the Community Engaged Research Core in the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. She currently serves on a national committee examining the ethical and regulatory context that would inform return of research results to individual study participants.