MSc Program Combats Skill Shortage in Clinical Research Sector


Company News Release

A new online MSc in Clinical Research Administration, developed to combat a skills shortage in the clinical research sector, has attracted 73 students from 27 countries.

October 1, 2008

A new online MSc in Clinical Research Administration, developed to combat a skills shortage in the clinical research sector, has attracted 73 students from 27 countries.

The programme, delivered by the University of Liverpool and Laureate Online Education, joins the university medical school's portfolio of medical, dental, biomedical and allied health programmes, will help to counter a growing shortage of qualified staff in one of the world's fastest growing sectors.

The massive expansion of the clinical trial industry is driven by the fast-moving pharmaceutical industry which is expected to more than double in value to £1.3 trillion by 2020.

An expansion of the sector, coupled with increased regulation and the consequent need for more qualified personnel, is leading to a shortage of staff with the skills necessary to manage clinical drug trials.

Dr. Carrol Gamble, Director of the MSc programme and Head of Statistics for the Medicines for Children Research Network's Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Liverpool said:

"The government is investing in clinical trials but there is a shortage of people to carry them out. The bottom line is that if there were more people with the appropriate qualifications and training more trials could be worked up.

"When we advertise trial co-ordinator positions within the Clinical Trials Research Centre we receive numerous applications from people who want to work in the area but without relevant experience or qualifications. We've developed this MSc to give people the opportunity to gain the expert knowledge required to fulfill the increasing demand for capacity in this area."

A report produced by the University of Liverpool and Laureate Online Education to mark the new programme outlines the issues faces the sector.

Under the Microscope: A summary report of professional development issues and trends within the clinical trials industry reveals both academic and commercial clinical research organisations are facing the same challenge - a shortage of qualified staff.

Students on the first cohort of the programme which began in June 2008 were drawn from 19 countries and are studying online in a global classroom.

Among them is Oluwayemisi Tayo, a 28-year-old clinical services officer from Nigeria. Oluwayemisi works for an organisation involved in developing a global HIV/Aids initiative. She says the new qualification will be of great benefit in her role:

"I work in a field of medicine which is very dynamic. Studies and trials are being carried out in HIV medicine every day. The MSc in CRA will help me to contribute significantly to the fight against HIV/AIDs, through involvement in clinical trials. "I'm also looking forward to discussions and sharing ideas with other professionals across the globe, it's an exciting prospect!"

Justyna Oracz is a contracts analyst for ICON Clinical Research, a contract research organisation, in Ireland. She is studying for the MSc in Clinical Research Administration as she wants to build a career in the industry:

"I believe the internationally recognized degree coupled with the working experience will allow me to undertake different roles within the industry, enhance my career and will open the opportunities for me in different EU countries," she says. The programme comprises of eight modules and one dissertation and the flexible nature of the qualification allows completion within 18 - 60 months. The programme will be delivered up to six times each year.

The second cohort of 50 students began their studies on August 28, 2008. On completion of the first four modules students qualify for the
Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Research Administration. By completing all eight modules they will qualify for the Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Research Administration, and on completion of the dissertation the full Masters award will be made.

Dr. Barbara Heller, Senior Vice-President of Laureate Education and Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore, said increasing the number of qualified professionals will make medical advances more achievable: "A growth in medical research has already yielded products that have benefited the public. The more trials and clinical research we can carry out the closer we can come to conquering disease."

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