"The goal is to partner and invest in support of developing and expanding high-impact clinical trials that synergize with our missions of patient care, clinical and translational research and medical education," said Dr. John Leonard, director of the Office and associate dean for clinical research, the Richard T. Silver Distinguished Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology and professor of medicine at Weill Cornell.
The new Joint Clinical Trials Office at Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian will also collaborate with Weill Cornell's Clinical and Translational Science Center in support of investigators who are testing new treatments and providing new insights into disease. What Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian wants accomplish, Dr. Leonard said, is to increase the volume, quality and impact of clinical trials at all departments at the medical center while maximizing efficiencies and ensuring compliance.
"If we want to be first-rate in clinical research," he said, "we need to have an infrastructure and provide support that is consistent with our goals."
And that is to be the premier place for clinical trials designed by faculty and in collaboration with industry.
"There are a tremendous number of drugs out there, and we want our investigators to be playing a leadership role," Dr. Leonard said. "Industry is interested in institutions that can contribute both patients and expertise to the enterprise. We want to continue to develop and assist physician-scientists who are leaders in the field, who are innovative in their ways in bringing therapeutics forward. That is what industry wants and needs."
Increasingly, academic medical centers and industry are forging mutually beneficial partnerships, changing the paradigm of the two arms of biomedical research working independently of each other to achieve the same ends. A recent article in Nature Biotechnology notes that these partnerships produce a greater wealth of understanding about basic biology and disease pathogenesis that can result in more effective and safer drugs and treatments. Academia's strength in research and study design can further buttress industry's research and development programs that have in many cases thinned as a result of downsizing.
Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian are currently recruiting for top leadership positions in the office and establishing a steering committee to provide guidance and oversight, Dr. Leonard said. He expects the activities of the office to ramp up in earnest during the first half of 2013.
"Clinical trials are part of the culture of the institutions, and our faculty, staff and patients really want and expect to be part of clinical trials in every area of the Medical College," he said. "We hope that everybody involved will in one way or another contribute to this important enterprise."