NEW YORK—Fordham University has forged ahead in its quest tobecome a thought leader in the discussion about evolving international drugdevelopment models by launching the Global Healthcare Innovation ManagementCenter.
In April, the center took a large leap forward when theAssociation of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO) became one of thecenter's founding members.
The new center, according to its mission statement, seeks toprovide greater affordability and access to healthcare through an efficientmanagement of the global innovation process in pharmaceuticals and healthcaredelivery systems, resulting in a reduction of disease burdens. The center aimsto achieve this sea change in healthcare by developing case studies ofinnovations in the field, conducting research with its partners and providingeducational opportunities.
Among its longer-term goals is to present a day-long,multi-stakeholder workshop annually on some aspect of innovation that it hasunder study.
The center is so new that, as of late May, it was not listedon the Fordham University Web site under the "centers" tab.
The center is directed by Dr. Falguni Sen, a professor ofmanagement systems at the Fordham Schools of Business with extensive experienceanalyzing pharmaceutical outsourcing and healthcare delivery systems from aglobal perspective. Sen has a particular interest in partnership drugdevelopment models.
"Management strategy to bring about healthcare innovation isnot a well-developed discipline," says Sen. "The center will examine topicssuch as pharmaceutical outsourcing, the creation of biotech 'clusters,'emerging healthcare delivery systems and advances in health informationtechnologies. Our initial focus will be on drug discovery and development inthe countries where innovations are taking place, such as India, China,Ireland, South Africa and Switzerland.
"We officially launched this project in March of this year,when Fordham agreed to the center's creation," continues Sen. "Fordham put insome funding, but we want to be sure that we get multi-stakeholders involved—wewant the entire drug delivery chain to be involved for this to meet ourobjectives."
In Sen's view, that includes not only academia, mainlythrough academic medical centers, but clinical organizations, institutionalreview boards and Big Pharma and biotech concerns.
"Initially, we have reached out to these potential partners,many through relationships I have," he continues. "We will eventually reach outto hospitals as well."
Sen feels that the timing is right for big pharma andbiotech concerns to join his fold, commenting that announcements aboutadditional partners could be made in the very near future.
Sen was unwilling to comment on financial commitments to thecenter, but says there will likely not be a fee for the involvement ofnon-profit organizations. ACRO is thus far the first and only partner in thisventure, although Sen says he is actively pursuing addtional members, andfunding from other means, such as foundations and grants. He indicates thatdiscussions with pharmaceutical companies are ongoing and have struck apositive and receptive tone.
John Lewis, vice president of public affairs at ACRO, saysthat Sen has known Dr. Doug Peddicord, ACRO's executive director, for severalyears. The idea for the center began to take shape at the end of last summer asthe two talked.
Lewis continues that his organization wanted to parter inthe venture not only because of Sen's interest in the field, especially hisresearch in India and China, but because of the rigor of the efforts put intoresearch by someone in Sen's position as a university faculty member.
"This is our business, and our members will benefit from oursupport of the center," says Lewis. "We wanted disciplined research on ourindustry that came from an academic perspective, and thus is peer-reviewed.Outsourcing of clinic trials is our member's expertise, as well as Dr. Sen's.We see a positive relationship between our members and this new center, as ourmembers have a lot of data compiled on this topic, as well as the ability toprovide consulting on other strategies."
Lewis says that while he expects the membership in thecenter to be long-standing, he indicated that ACRO provided a $20,000commitment for two years as a founding member.
"Working with sponsor companies, CROs are driving theadoption of innovative drug development models that will help bring life-savingtreatments to market more quickly and efficiently, says Peddicord. "Researcharound how to best manage these evolving development models is criticallyimportant to the future of the biopharmaceutical industry and ACRO is pleasedto be among the founding members of this valuable research center."
Peddicord will serve on the center's board of advisors. Thusfar, aside from the warm reception Sen describes experiencing in his outreachefforts, he has a supportive partner in ACRO.
"We're very pleased to be one of the early funders,"concludes Lewis. "ACRO committed to the center even before it had a bankaccount to send a check to. We hope that as the center grows, many otherorganizations commit to research that ACRO sees as very important."
ACRO represents companies whose focus is clinical research.The association provides a voice for the global CRO industry, which providesspecialized services that are integral to the development of drugs, biologicsand medical devices. Through its member companies, ACRO helps improve thequality, efficiency and safety of biomedical research. ACRO member companiesemploy approximately 70,000 professionals worldwide and annually conduct morethan 9,000 clinical trials involving nearly two million participants in 115countries.