Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Test your prospects in clinical research
Manish K. Singal

Clinical research is a field where one not only gets job satisfaction but good money as well. It is through this profession that doctors and pharma professionals have invented drugs to cure a number of diseases. Although this field is much more well-established in foreign countries such as the USA, Germany, England and Switzerland, with the globalisation of the Indian economy, many MNCs engaged in this work have set up base in India now.

Dr Rajat Goel, a doctor and now a senior researcher in India working with PATH, says, "I did my doctorís degree from the US but left this profession and took up clinical research instead as I wanted to gift something new to mankind by inventing new drugs. It is a good field and the young generation should choose this field as a career."

To discover a new drug, it is necessary to first establish the mechanism of the drug, i.e. how it reacts in the human body.

Scope for pharma students

Then its uses have to be explored and, most importantly, whether it has any undesirable side-effects on the human body. For this purpose, it is important to develop a model assay system at the physiological/ biochemical and molecular level. "With its help we can understand the mechanism of a particular drug and its reaction on the human body," he says. Dr Goel says that he came to India after leaving the US to serve the people here. "The sad part is that in India, not many people are interested in clinical research as a career. It is a good field and paying as well."

There are very few institutes, countable on oneís fingertips, that are offering training in clinical research. It is a good career for pharma graduates also. After completing B.Pharma or the Masterís and Ph.D in this field, the prospects for pharma professionals are nothing in comparison to a career in clinical research. "If a comprehensive training programme is imparted to pharma professionals, they can do well in clinical research since the drug industry in India is expanding fast," says Dr Goel.

Placement prospects

Companies like Ranbaxy, Cipla, Glaxo and others are doing excellent work in this field. They have their own clinical research segment where they have hired good professionals for this purpose and the result is there to see. They are coming up with the best possible drugs for various diseases. A professional in this field are absorbed as a Clinical Research Associate (CRA). The responsibilities include overseeing the progress of any clinical trial. These professionals are generally employed by pharmaceutical companies, research organisations etc. A CRA may also have to work at a site and interact with the study coordinator and the investigator conducting a clinical trial.

Dr. Rajat further said, "Monitoring of a clinical trial is the first stage in identifying potential data discrepancies and regulatory issues as inadequate monitoring may destroy the safety of the study participant. So, a well-trained CRA plays a vital role in protecting the study participant. It also reduces the time between drug development and market approval. This is the reason why the demand for skilled professionals continues to grow while their availability is limited."

Prof. K. Kannan, a senior biotechnologist in GGS Indraprastha University, adds, "More and more pharma professionals should come to this field of clinical research. The government should also look forward to providing more institutes to train manpower for this field."