Benchmark Research, an Austin, Texas-based group of six investigative sites, is making some strategic hires as it positions itself for growth.
Deborah Copeland and Kathy Stoddard have both joined Benchmark as vice presidents. Copeland, based in Snellville, Ga., is the former executive director of global strategic outsourcing for the newly merged CROs PharmaNet/i3, while Stoddard was the long-time clinical research director of Heartland Research Associates (HRA), a five-location site in Kansas.
“The addition of Kathy and Deb stems from Benchmark’s desire to grow substantially over the next few years, internally and externally, involving expanding both therapeutically as well as geographically,” said Mark Lacy, founder and president of Benchmark, which started as one small site in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1997.
He declined to divulge details about the nature of the expected growth, but said, “Until now, Benchmark’s growth has been solely organic, which has provided us a solid platform. Going forward, our strategy does include continued organic growth, but will include other exciting opportunities for growth as well.”
With the hires, Benchmark joins a small handful of other site groups that have been beefing up to ready themselves for growth or launching expansion plans.
In May, Maryland-based site group and consultancy RxTrials hired Adam Chasse away from Quintiles, the largest CRO in the market, as well as Dan Milam from Sanofi Pasteur, the largest sponsor devoted to vaccines. Chasse, who had been with Quintiles since 1995, most recently as head of its Prime Sites group, came on as RxTrials’ vice president of business development. Milam had been a regional clinical trials manager for Sanofi Pasteur since 2002. He’s now RxTrials’ executive director of clinical operations.
Also in May, Jacksonville, Fla.-based site group JaxResearch Systems and the Wilmington, N.C.-based recruiting company Inclinix together launched Encore Integrated Clinical Research, an affiliation of independent clinical research sites that share SOPs and a technology platform. A few months earlier, JaxResearch opened a new site in Panama.
Although both Stoddard and Copeland are starting as vice presidents, Lacy said they’ll soon transition to more focused roles. “Over time, as our leadership team puts together the key tenets of our strategic growth plan, their titles—and those of other key personnel within Benchmark—will evolve into more focused efforts, such as clinical development, clinical operations and corporate development,” he said.
Copeland began her career as a study coordinator, then held positions in field monitoring, project management, quality assurance and global training. She worked for the FDA and Ingenix (now owned by i3) before becoming executive director of global strategic outsourcing for i3 in 2006.
“In Deborah, we have someone who has worked across many areas of our industry,” said Lacy. “We expect to learn a lot from Deb, who will not only bring her considerable expertise across all areas on the site side, but will bring us the firsthand and current perspective of how to best serve our customers, the sponsors and CROs.”
Stoddard joined HRA in 1996 and helped build it from one site with two employes to five sites with 50 employees, with more than 1,000 studies completed.
“In Kathy, we have someone who has spearheaded over the past decade the growth of a very small site to one of the largest, most respected multi-therapeutic sites in the country,” said Lacy. “Furthermore, she established and developed three satellite sites in addition to the principal site in Wichita.”
Benchmark currently employs approximately 60 people in six metropolitan areas in three states. Benchmark has annual revenues of over $10 million, said Lacy.
“The two additions will not only greatly enhance our ability to grow the company substantially but, more importantly, ensure that we maintain and even improve our quality of work,” he said.