The Institute of Clinical Research in India (ICRI) has formed a strategic partnership with Accenture, the global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, to develop an educational programme in clinical research and pharmacovigilance that will address the growing demand for trained professionals in the field.

Whether India has the human resources to sustain the rapid evolution of its clinical research sector has been a matter of concern for some years now. In 2008 a report by the country’s Planning Commission suggested that a shortage of trained clinical research personnel – estimated at anything from 30,000 to 50,000 CRPs – was the biggest challenge facing India amid global competition for clinical trials.

The Accenture-ICRI Post-Graduate Diploma in Clinical Research and Pharmacovigilance is aimed at students from, initially, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore who have at a minimum a graduate/post-graduate qualification in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and the life sciences. Applicants will also need to have passed the relevant Accenture-ICRI certificate for the diploma.

Accenture will be involved in training the trainers, curriculum content development, curriculum execution and delivery through periodic guest lectures, certification and re-assessment of trainers to ensure consistent quality, and upgrading the course content in accordance with industry requirements.

In September 2007, Accenture built on an existing relationship with Bristol-Myers Squibb to launch a joint centre for pharmacovigilance in Chennai, India, operated by more than 140 Accenture employees.

India “is emerging as a hub for clinical research and the demand for professionals in this field is growing rapidly,” noted Manish Sharma, lead, service delivery operations, APAC (Achieving High Performance in Asia Pacific), BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) Growth Platform for Accenture.

“Accenture aspires to meet this massive demand for clinical research professionals by coming together with ICRI to develop professionals who are valuable and employable in the industry,” Sharma added.

The curriculum for the diploma will span a 6-12 month period or an aggregate of 360 hours’ study. It will consist of four modules covering Basics of Clinical Research, Pharmacology, Pharmacovigilance and Regulations; Case Processing; Aggregate Report; and Risk Management in Pharmacovigilance and Signal Detection.