The next time you get a flu shot, you may have Cynthia Buda to thank for its effectiveness. Buda, who is vice president for provider services at the Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research (JCCR), is in the unique position of working with many medicines and vaccines before they get to the market. The firm recently completed a study for the next flu vaccine which included more than 90 patients. JCCR is currently conducting more than 100 research programs in about two dozen therapeutic areas. Buda came on board when the company opened its doors in 1984 and confesses she has never been bored because every research project is different. Buda said it is especially rewarding when the new medications improve the quality of life of patients. In some cases, JCCR patients have been called to testify at FDA hearings about the effectiveness of a new drug. "After you've worked with a drug or compound sometimes for seven years or more, it's very rewarding to see it succeed and be put on the market. You know that's your baby." A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Buda first moved to Ocala, where she started a nursing program, and then came to Jacksonville to finish at FCCJ. Initially Buda saw herself in a traditional nursing position. She worked in critical care and cardiac rehab at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville. Then she started splitting her responsibilities between patient care and research. She quickly was attracted to full-time research because of the opportunity to be part of new developments in medicine. She has been part of several of those developments. For example, JCCR was heavily involved in the development of Lipitor, the No. 1 selling drug in the world. A large national study for Lipitor was coordinated through JCCR then reported back to the drug company and the FDA.Buda also has assisted in the creation of "e-TrialDoc," a subscription-based service which offers a comprehensive Web tool designed to help clinical research sites in their day-to-day activities. This project was started because Buda discovered there weren't enough models to assist the startup of clinical research sites. Many of these initiatives were undertaken, Buda said, because UNF's nursing program taught her she could be empowered to "get out and make a difference." "UNF was the professional polish for management skills to enhance my ability to contribute as a professional nurse. It taught me how to integrate with a health care team." This skill is very important with JCCR, Buda said, because she works with doctors, researchers, administrators, other nurses and, of course, patients. Realizing admission to UNF's nursing program is challenging, Buda said knowing "you are among the cream of the crop makes you want to excel." Buda thinks so highly of UNF she has also enrolled in the MBA program, which she said will be of great assistance as she deals with the administrative side of business affairs at the center. She was forced to postpone her MBA studies when she and her husband John became the parents of twins. They also have two other children.An interest in health care runs in Buda's family, but it's too early to tell if any of the children will follow in Buda's footsteps. Her sister Susan is a registered nurse at Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute's operating room. Regardless of their career path, Buda is likely to recommend UNF to her children without hesitation.