Optimal expands network with Austin facility
Rockville, Md.-based Optimal Research, a clinical research site solution provider, has expanded its network with the addition of a 40-bed, phase I inpatient facility in Austin, Texas.
According to company officials, the Austin facility is an experienced research site that has performed more than 200 central nervous system (CNS)/pain trials in addition to studies in other therapeutic areas. The new addition bolsters the company’s corporate expansion and provides its clients with inpatient study observation capabilities by trained staff members with monitoring options such as cardiac telemetry and pulse oximetry, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) studies, and gastroenterology studies. The 30,000-square-foot facility is located near the University of Texas at Austin campus.
“Building and scaling a high-quality team is a key driver to our continued success and to our ability to offer the best research facilities and staff to companies undertaking drug development,” said Optimal President and Chief Medical Officer Stephan Bart, M.D., in making the announcement. “The Austin facility and the research staff there provide our clients with top-notch experience and unparalleled dedication to patient safety and the advancement of medical research to help us better serve our clients.”
The facility has surgical suites and the capacity to house up to 40 patients for overnight studies. Stephen Daniels, D.O., will serve as the site’s lead principal investigator and medical director. He is a well-known CNS/pain key opinion leader and has more than 20 years of clinical research experience and clinical trial leadership.
“Our site is pleased to be joining Optimal Research and looks forward to continuing to contribute to the clinical development needs of pharmaceutical clients worldwide,” Daniels said during the announcement. “We are honored to join such a distinguished group and look forward to continuing our work in acute and chronic pain as well as addressing other therapeutic areas of need.”
In an interview with CWWeekly, Bart elaborated on the new site’s benefits.
“This site will perform post-operative wisdom tooth extraction and bunionectomy pain studies so volunteers will be able to get their wisdom teeth and bunions removed with no cost to the subject,” he said. “The surgeons and anesthesiologists who will perform these duties are all board-certified and each has over 15 years of experience doing these kinds of studies. In addition, the facility covers a broad scope of therapeutic indications other than post-operative pain.
“This addition will now provide for expanded in-patient capabilities as well as extend the therapeutic focus of the Optimal network. Beyond the addition of the Austin facility, our expanding oncology network and pediatric network now will provide Sponsors an Optimal Research site solution, which will encompass all development needs.”
Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS) President Christine Pierre offered words of praise for the Optimal deal, noting that it’s “much more fiscally demanding to open an early-phase unit” than a later-phase facility, which means “it’s imperative that the appropriate homework be done” beforehand.
“Hats off to them,” Pierre, who stressed that she was not familiar with the Austin facility, told CWWeekly. “An established site is seeing an opportunity for growth, and they took advantage of it.”
Texas has enjoyed growing popularity with the medical community. According to a new report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Lone Star State ranked second nationally in attracting the most physicians and fifth in percentage growth among those who treat patients. In the past two years, the U.S. has added slightly more than 40,000 patient-care physicians, and nearly one in 10 of those new doctors now is practicing in Texas.
“Texas is a growing state with growing healthcare needs,” Jon Opelt, executive director of the Texas Alliance For Patient Access, told CWWeekly. “In 2012, healthcare became the largest employer in the state, employing 1.3 million people. Roughly one-third of all new jobs created in the state are in the healthcare field. Clearly, Optimal Research saw a need and pounced on that opportunity.”
Bart said there are a number of reasons why Optimal chose Texas: “Experienced investigators and staff. Growing population with broad demographics. Expanded catchment area. University of Texas is one block from the site and is a large university with 50,000 undergraduate students—we have a great relationship with the university.”
Optimal offers clinical research site solutions to biotech, pharmaceutical medical device companies, and CROs that seek to conduct studies. The company provides clinical site research infrastructure and staffing to meet the requirements of clinical trial protocols for men’s and women’s health, geriatrics, vaccine, oncology, and pediatric health conditions.
The company is comprised of seven core sites. Besides Rockville and Austin, the sites are located in Huntsville, Ala.; San Diego; Melbourne, Fla.; Peoria, Ill.; Mishawaka, Ind.; and San Diego. Optimal also includes an oncology and pediatric site network across the country.
This article was reprinted from Volume 19, Issue 48, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »