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Fordham builds partnership for global healthcare innovation
NEW YORK—Fordham University has forged ahead in its quest to become a thought leader in the discussion about evolving international drug development models by launching the Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center.
In April, the center took a large leap forward when the Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO) became one of the center's founding members.
The new center, according to its mission statement, seeks to provide greater affordability and access to healthcare through an efficient management of the global innovation process in pharmaceuticals and healthcare delivery systems, resulting in a reduction of disease burdens. The center aims to achieve this sea change in healthcare by developing case studies of innovations in the field, conducting research with its partners and providing educational opportunities.
Among its longer-term goals is to present a day-long, multi-stakeholder workshop annually on some aspect of innovation that it has under study.
The center is so new that, as of late May, it was not listed on the Fordham University Web site under the "centers" tab.
The center is directed by Dr. Falguni Sen, a professor of management systems at the Fordham Schools of Business with extensive experience analyzing pharmaceutical outsourcing and healthcare delivery systems from a global perspective. Sen has a particular interest in partnership drug development models.
"Management strategy to bring about healthcare innovation is not a well-developed discipline," says Sen. "The center will examine topics such as pharmaceutical outsourcing, the creation of biotech 'clusters,' emerging healthcare delivery systems and advances in health information technologies. Our initial focus will be on drug discovery and development in the 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 in some funding, but we want to be sure that we get multi-stakeholders involved—we want the entire drug delivery chain to be involved for this to meet our objectives."
In Sen's view, that includes not only academia, mainly through academic medical centers, but clinical organizations, institutional review 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 out to hospitals as well."
Sen feels that the timing is right for big pharma and biotech concerns to join his fold, commenting that announcements about additional partners could be made in the very near future.
Sen was unwilling to comment on financial commitments to the center, but says there will likely not be a fee for the involvement of non-profit organizations. ACRO is thus far the first and only partner in this venture, although Sen says he is actively pursuing addtional members, and funding from other means, such as foundations and grants. He indicates that discussions with pharmaceutical companies are ongoing and have struck a positive and receptive tone.
John Lewis, vice president of public affairs at ACRO, says that Sen has known Dr. Doug Peddicord, ACRO's executive director, for several years. The idea for the center began to take shape at the end of last summer as the two talked.
Lewis continues that his organization wanted to parter in the venture not only because of Sen's interest in the field, especially his research in India and China, but because of the rigor of the efforts put into research by someone in Sen's position as a university faculty member.
"This is our business, and our members will benefit from our support of the center," says Lewis. "We wanted disciplined research on our industry 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 our members have a lot of data compiled on this topic, as well as the ability to provide consulting on other strategies."
Lewis says that while he expects the membership in the center to be long-standing, he indicated that ACRO provided a $20,000 commitment for two years as a founding member.
"Working with sponsor companies, CROs are driving the adoption of innovative drug development models that will help bring life-saving treatments to market more quickly and efficiently, says Peddicord. "Research around how to best manage these evolving development models is critically important to the future of the biopharmaceutical industry and ACRO is pleased to be among the founding members of this valuable research center."
Peddicord will serve on the center's board of advisors. Thus far, aside from the warm reception Sen describes experiencing in his outreach efforts, 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 bank account to send a check to. We hope that as the center grows, many other organizations 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 provides specialized services that are integral to the development of drugs, biologics and medical devices. Through its member companies, ACRO helps improve the quality, efficiency and safety of biomedical research. ACRO member companies employ approximately 70,000 professionals worldwide and annually conduct more than 9,000 clinical trials involving nearly two million participants in 115 countries.