Will serve testing needs of the pharmaceutical industry

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –The West Virginia University Clinical and Pharmacological Research Center (CPRC) has been established to conduct clinical trials of medications being developed for use in the United States and elsewhere.

Dorian Williams, M.D., a board-certified family physician, a certified physician investigator and long-time member of the WVU School of Medicine faculty, serves as medical director of CPRC and is currently the interim director of the organization. CPRC will recruit volunteers from the Morgantown area and beyond to participate in testing of pharmaceuticals. “Our first priority is protecting the health and safety of research volunteers and making sure each volunteer is fully informed before participating,” Dr. Williams said.

The contract research organization, created by the WVU Research Corporation and the WVU Health Sciences Center, has already created 21 full-time jobs at its testing center on Chestnut Ridge Road in Morgantown. CPRC expects employ up to 60 part-time staff, mostly health professionals, who will conduct and monitor testing.  

“All medications used in the U.S. must be rigorously tested to meet the standards set by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and other regulatory agencies,” Williams said. “These tests include highly monitored and regulated trials with healthy human subjects. By contracting with CPRC for these tests, manufacturers can be assured that their products will be tested under the high standards required by the FDA and that the tests will be conducted in a short time frame at a reasonable cost. This leads to more efficient delivery of drugs to the marketplace and lower overall healthcare costs.”

“Establishing this center creates a platform for important and innovative partnerships with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries,” Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., WVU chancellor for health sciences, said. “This is an important investment for the economic future of our community.”

The development of an industry-focused research unit complements other recent research moves at the Health Sciences Center, said Glenn H. Dillon, Ph.D., WVU’s vice president for health science research and graduate education. “In 2012, the National Institutes of Health committed more than $19 million to support clinical and translational research at WVU. What Dr. Williams and others involved with this project have done is to use creative thinking to build an entrepreneurial enterprise with a research focus. This strengthens our partnership with the local research and manufacturing community and has the potential to develop additional funding opportunities for our researchers at a time when other sources of research funding are threatened.”

The University’s research leaders have enthusiastically endorsed the new enterprise. “The establishment of the WVU CPRC will afford new opportunities for biomedical innovation in West Virginia as well as at WVU,” Fred L. King, Ph.D., WVU vice president for research, said. “This center is a critical part of the research ecosystem needed to retain existing and attract new pharmaceutical and biomedical companies to the region.”

Although CPRC is new, healthy-subject pharmaceutical research has been conducted in Morgantown for more than three decades. Thomas Clark, M.D., a family physician and WVU graduate, established a clinical and pharmacologic research unit in Morgantown in 1979 and conducted the first trials in 1982. This later became a part of Kendle International Inc., a publicly-traded contract research corporation. Kendle was acquired by INC Research, LLC, in mid-2011. INC Research closed the Morgantown location in July 2012, leaving the community without this service for the first time since the 1980s.

Dr. Williams was affiliated with Kendle and INC Research from 1982-2012 and served as medical director of the Morgantown facility for 12 years. The WVU Research Corporation is actively recruiting for a permanent director.

The new organization is located in the same building formerly used by Kendle and INC Research. Mylan, one of the world’s leading generics and specialty pharmaceutical companies, operates a manufacturing facility in Morgantown and has entered into an agreement with CPRC to receive services formerly provided by the earlier enterprises. CPRC will actively seek additional industry clients. The current projection is that CPRC will have an annual local economic impact of $7 million.
-- WVU --
For more information: Amy Johns, WVU Healthcare and Health Sciences Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
bc: 01-08-13