With funding from the Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO) as well as various foundations and grants, Fordham University has established the Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center. The center will be directed by Dr. Falguni Sen, a professor of management systems at the Fordham Schools of Business.
According to John Lewis, vice president of public affairs at ACRO, who spoke with CWWeekly at the Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference last week, Sen and Doug Peddicord, Ph.D., executive director of ACRO, had known each other for a few years before Sen approached ACRO for funding of the center at the end of last year.
Lewis described Sen as someone who is knowledgeable about the pharmaceutical industry as well as emerging areas of the world where outsourcing takes place, such as India and China. When Sen approached ACRO about funding the center, ACRO was working on its own research agenda and thought the center’s work would dovetail well with some of its research agenda.
“What our members are interested in is seeing the growing use of outsourcing. We have to get beyond just the basic outsourcing arguments—‘better, faster, cheaper’—to try to build a real body of research around what we see as our value proposition in the drug development process,” Lewis said. “We don’t expect the center’s research to conclude that everything should be outsourced to CROs. We’re trying to have legitimate, peer-reviewed research done that shows what works and what doesn’t work and here’s where the process can be improved.”
The new center will look at other major industries that have been outsourcing, such as the information technology and automotive industries, and study the progression of outsourcing in these industries and the triggers for it. The aim is to use knowledge gained in these industries and apply relevant findings to improving pharmaceutical outsourcing.
Lewis believes it is important for ACRO to be a founding member of the independent center.
“We wanted to get in early to help Dr. Sen get the research started and to help set the research agenda. He’s going to study much more than outsourcing. He will also be studying advances in health IT applications, the creation of biotech clusters in different regions of the world and healthcare delivery models,” Lewis said.
The center’s initial focus will be on drug discovery and development in countries where innovations are taking place, such as India, China, South Africa and Switzerland.
“It’s a broader center and a long title, but that’s really what he’s looking at: What are the management processes and characteristics that drive innovation? Part of that is in drug development and outsourcing but he’s also going to look at healthcare as well,” Lewis said.
Though the center has been established with funding from initial founders, such as ACRO, Sen is still raising funds.