WIRB-Copernicus Group (WCG), a clinical research solutions provider, has assembled a team of world-renowned experts to advise the company regarding the latest advances in gene therapy research.
“Human gene therapy is one of the fastest-growing areas of medical research, and also one of the most promising,” said WCG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Donald A. Deieso, Ph.D. “The advances made by scientists and clinicians in the field of gene therapy have enabled us to target disease at the genetic level, redefining the concept of precision medicine.” He added, “More than that, gene transfer researchers have succeeded—over the course of a single lifetime —in transforming the world’s most persistent and lethal viruses into disease-fighting allies in the quest to improve human health.”
“As gene therapy research moves increasingly into the clinic, we must ensure that our clients are well prepared to safely and confidently manage this new type of research,” said WCG Chief Medical Officer and President of Consulting Services Lindsay McNair, M.D., MPH, MSB. “In addition to keeping trial volunteers safe, they must also protect the welfare of their employees and the larger community. Through the WCG Gene Therapy Advisory Board, our clients will have access to the best and most current thinking in this new and emerging field.”
The WCG Gene Therapy Advisory Board is comprised of experts from diverse backgrounds with specialized knowledge of the commercial development, regulatory oversight, and clinical application of products involving recombinant DNA. The Advisory Board will provide guidance and strategic counsel to the company, ensuring that knowledge and best practices are reflected in the company’s oversight of human gene transfer research, which involves the careful coordination of institutional review board (IRB) and institutional biosafety committee (IBC) reviews. The Advisory Board will also help the company to prepare its clients to manage increasing volumes of this type of complex and potentially hazardous research.
WCG Gene Therapy Advisory Board members include Mark Bagarazzi, M.D., chief medical officer at Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and past director of regulatory worldwide affairs at Merck; Carl June, M.D., director of the Translational Research Program and professor of immunotherapy at Penn Medicine, and chair of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy’s (ASGCT’s) Cancer Vaccines Committee; and Hans-Peter Kiem, M.D., professor at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine, associate head of the Heme Malignancy Program for the UW/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Consortium, chair of the National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, and chair of ASGCT Stem Cell Center. They are joined by Arnold J. Levine, Ph.D., professor of the Institute for Advanced Study at the School of Natural Sciences at Princeton University, and professor in the pediatrics and biochemistry departments at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center; and Tony Reid, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, hematology/oncology at the Moores Cancer Center and director of early phase clinical investigation at UC San Diego, and chairman of the Association of American Cancer Institutes’ Clinical Research Initiative.
“Both the promise—and complexity—of this field are astounding,” said Joan M. Robbins, Ph.D., WCG senior vice president of Biosafety and Gene Therapy. “Advances in the application of gene therapy, gene editing, genetic-based precision medicine, and immunotherapy are announced almost weekly; it can be a challenge to keep current. Medical researchers who participate in this field—or who would like to participate in the future—must make continuing education a priority.”
Dr. Robbins has more than 25 years’ experience in cancer research, gene therapy, and drug development. Prior to joining WCG, she served as vice president of translational research at Tocagen. Dr. Robbins was also a research fellow at the Garvin Institute for Medical Research at the Centre for Immunology in Sydney, Australia.