ICR, UK ties up with ISCR

ICR, UK ties up with ISCR

Viveka Roychowdhury

“We can assist through sharing knowledge and raising standards, as we have done for the last 30 years, internationally, and develop professionals in India”

– Dr John Hooper CEO

Institute of Clinical Research

UK-based Institute of Clinical Research (ICR) recently tied up with Mumbai-based industry association, the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR), to offer value added courses in the field of clinical research. The ICR Chairperson, Susan Ollier and CEO, Dr John Hooper, were recently in India to finalise the agreement. “ICR is delighted to be able to support the booming pharma market in India, which will have a big share of international clinical trials. There is much to be done and we can assist through sharing knowledge and raising standards, as we have for the last 30 years, internationally, and develop professionals in India,” says Hooper.

Explaining the rationale for the tie up, Dr Suresh Menon, President, ISCR says, “ICR is a global brand, recognised as a pioneer in the field of clinical research training. The brand ‘ICR’ is valued abroad. Using the infrastructure of ISCR, with members involved full time in the industry, we felt we could combine the expertise of both organisations and give working clinical research professionals packages, which would add value to their day to day working pattern.”

Differentiating the proposed courses from those already in existence, Menon points out that ISCR’s aim is not to provide parallel training at the basic level. “Global players and stakeholders already have their own internal mechanisms to provide training to ensure that their employees are well versed with the highest international ICH-GCP standards. Our endeavour is to provide value added courses, which would be useful for people already in the clinical research industry. There would be sessions tailored towards addressing practical issues, which you would not find mentioned in books and literature. We aim to design packages which are by and large India-centric, looking at issues and problems where Indian professionals will be able to gain advantage,” concludes Menon.

In the coming year, ISCR plans to conduct three-four courses in collaboration with ICR. The two day programmes and one day workshops will be held back-to-back in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

ICR’s plans for India

Hooper says that during their trip to India, the ICR team, including Dr Shamiq Hussain, Country Manager, ICR India visited educational institutes such as the similarly named ICRI, Manipal, Lotus, Mithas Labs and pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy. They are in the process of identifying suitable individuals to be ICR-accredited clinical research trainers. Hussain is currently in the process of establishing an ICR office in Hyderabad which will be functional by January 2008. This will also be the base for the University of Manchester, UK, which has developed an extensive range of individual modules, which can lead to an MSc in clinical research for those who cannot or choose not to attend a conventional classroom course.

The Global Institute of Clinical Research was established 30 years ago and is a membership organisation of clinical research individuals at varying stages of their career and recognised through the class of membership starting at Affiliate to Registered, to Professional Member, Chartered Scientist and Fellow. The Institute is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership and managed by a professional team that provides support in education, training programmes, conferences, workshops and seminars. It has an extensive information service online, with searchable databases, online e-learning programmes and provides special interest groups to meet the interests and topics in clinical research. For example, the groups include pharmacy, medical devices, paediatrics etc.

The institute has a continuing professional development scheme to ensure all members can keep up to date, develop professional standards and it produces publications including its journal CRfocus. Hooper said that the Indian version of CRfocus will be produced in early 2008, by ICRI with editorial content managed by ICR in the UK.

The institute’s own examination, which will be jointly conducted by ICR and ISCR in India, provides the benchmark for the industry. The certificate exam tests knowledge, the diploma exam tests, the application of that knowledge and the certification exam is for those who have been working in industry for at least three years with a choice of questions depending on the individual’s area of expertise. The exams will be held once or twice a year, at two or three centres across India.

Expanding on ICR’s India-specific agenda for 2008, Hooper says that they expect to accredit a number of existing educational programmes and train the trainers over the coming months and will be supporting conferences on clinical research in India.

As more clinical studies flow into India, the lack of suitably trained personnel could seriously hamper the growth and image of India as a hub of quality clinical trials. Collaborations such as the ICR-ISCR agreement will hopefully help enhance skills and raise standards of clinical research across the board.