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Ruchit Trivedi, Andy Vick, and Ruth E. Stevens

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Contract research organizations (CROs) are helping to find innovative solutions to minimize costs while increasing efficiencies to bring products such as life-saving drugs, treatments, therapies, or medical devices to the market faster than ever before. They are a growing side of the pharmaceutical industry that has seen a substantial increase in employment as well as business in the past decade. Over the next seven years, the global market for CROs is expected to grow by 6 percent.  CROs provide a variety of services that encompass the entire drug development process from discovery to clinical trials. CROs have become the cornerstone for growth of virtual pharmaceutical companies, many of which have been highly successful. Hence, now it is very important for entrepreneurial aspirants, as well as pharmaceutical professionals, to be aware of CROs.

How do you know if pursuing a career with a CRO is the right direction for you?  As scientists who have worked with or for CROs, we have some thoughts to consider.

CROs generally offer a dynamic and fast-paced work environment where you have a wide range of experiences in a short period of time. There is a constantly changing work dynamic, which results from fluctuating client needs and moving on to different projects quickly. Pharmaceutical CROs typically provide a well-rounded experience in all aspects of product development, and you tend to learn more things quickly compared to big pharma.

The flip side of having a dynamic, constantly changing environment is that the focus of a project(s) shifts rapidly and there may not be enough time to focus on one aspect for several months or years as it generally happens in big pharma. CROs also focus highly on client interaction and expectation management for clients, something that is not a concern in big pharma. Interaction with potential clients and visionary entrepreneurs is one of the big advantages of working in a CRO if someone is looking for a comprehensive business experience as well. Overall, a CRO has many more moving pieces compared to pharmaceutical companies, but it also provides a wider ranging experience in product development.

This topic will be discussed in-depth during a session at the 2016 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition titled Contract Research Organizations: A Go-To Destination for Entrepreneurial Aspirants? The session will be held on Thursday, November 17, from 10:00 am to noon in the Mile High Ballroom 2A/3A. Overall, this session will highlight the differences between the types of CROs and the number of unique roles that exist within a CRO for pharmaceutical professionals. It will also explore the relationship between CROs and their sponsors, how entrepreneurs can start or make use of CROs to enhance their business, as well as provide an insight on the career opportunities and development within the CRO industry.

This session will be beneficial not only to the potential entrepreneurs who wish to collaborate with CROs or work within the CRO business, but also to young pharmaceutical professionals and students who are still looking to find a niche for themselves within the pharmaceutical industry.

Ruchit Trivedi, Ph.D., is a scientist II at Bioduro, LLC, in San Diego and involved with formulation development of poorly soluble APIs with a focus on amorphous technology transfer of oral solid dose formulations.
Andy Vick, Ph.D., is a Corporate Vice President for Charles River Laboratories. In this role, he is responsible for the strategic management and operational oversight of sites in Ashland, Ohio, Spencerville, Ohio, and Skokie, Illinois. Andy is currently serving on the AAPS Foundation Executive Committee and the AAPS Executive Council as member-at-large.
Ruth E. Stevens, Ph.D., M.B.A., is a founder of Camargo Pharmaceutical Services and has been its chief scientific officer and executive VP since 2003. She is a former FDA team leader and technical discipline reviewer.