Meet the PRIM&R Blog Squad: Andy Burman

PRIM&R is pleased to introduce the members of the inaugural Blog Squad at this year’s 2010 Advancing Ethical Research Conference. The Blog Squad is composed of four PRIM&R members who are devoted to blogging live from the conference.

Today’s Blog Squad member is Andy Burman, IRB coordinator at Genesis Health System in Davenport, Iowa.


Growing up, I never dreamed that my career would support a research program for a community-based health system. I had never heard of an institutional review board, the Code of Federal Regulations, or the Belmont Report. My aspirations were more focused on my dreams of playing professional baseball, being a lead singer in a rock band, forecasting the weather on the Weather Channel, or working at John Deere (I do live in Iowa).
Life has a way of changing all of those things.
My full name is Andrew Carey Burman, but most people call me Andy. I was raised in an area called the Quad-Cities, a metropolitan area with more than 375,000 people. The Quad-Cities encompass space that includes eastern Iowa and western Illinois, and is home to the only place where the Mississippi River flows directly from east to west.
In 1996, when I was 14 years old, my father suddenly became ill. After suffering cardiac arrest and spending 85 days in the local hospital called Genesis, he returned home a much different, and more sick, person with congestive heart failure. In 1998, when his cardiac situation was continuing to deteriorate, he enrolled in a research device project for a biventricular pacemaker-defibrillator that included a wire system that reached to the left ventricle of the heart. The implantation of the device into my father was a first-in-the world procedure.
While the device trial was ultimately successful and is now currently on the market, the damage to my father’s heart was beyond what the device could correct. In February 2001, my father was listed for a heart transplant. He was extremely fortunate to receive a heart in April of the same year.


Today, nearly 10 years post-transplant, my father leads an excellent and productive life. Now retired, his days are filled with golf, table tennis, grocery shopping, cooking, yard work, and spending time with the family pet. He has competed for Team Iowa in the 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 U.S. Transplant Games, and has been a medalist in table tennis on two occasions.
As for me, I often wonder where I would be without research. I know for sure that I would not have a living Dad. I would not have had a father to witness my wedding, or the upcoming birth of my first child, his first grandchild (hopefully any day!). Additionally, I doubt that I would be a research program coordinator for the community-based health system Genesis, the same health system where my father received much of his care.
These life experiences have led me to be an advocate for the promotion and execution of ethical clinical research. I consider it my small way of giving back to a community that has given me so much.
It is an honor to be selected as a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad. I look forward to meeting my fellow PRIM&R colleagues at my first AER conference this December.