Senior clinical executives from top pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Shire and GSK, met earlier this month at the US offices of Shire Pharmaceuticals to agree the quality standards and define the competencies for a global competition to recognise and encourage talented researchers in North and South America.

The US Clinical Researcher of the Year competition ( is an important initiative because it provides professionals working within the clinical research fraternity with the opportunity for personal development through a series of peer-mediated and competency-based exercises.

Jim Thomasell, executive director of competition partner and sponsor, the Association of Clinical Research Professionals, notes: “ACRP is delighted to support the US Clinical Researcher of the Year competition, because its aims are very much aligned with our mission, namely to provide leadership to promote integrity and excellence for the clinical research profession.”

The case-study nature of the competition means participants and the organisations supporting them have no concerns over sharing sensitive information regarding their day-to-day work. And, importantly, competitors can test their skills and knowledge to challenge themselves within the protected environment of an industry competition.

Benchmarking skills

“There are very few opportunities for professionals to benchmark their skills within a protected environment, where the quality standards are established and judged by senior industry peers,” notes Sean Morgan-Jones of organisers PharmaTimes.

“The aims of the competition are three-fold. Firstly to provide development for ambitious research professionals, secondly to help organisations benchmark with peer organisations, and finally to deliver broader industry insights and learning that can be disseminated through PharmaTimes’ many communications platforms to a global pharma community.”

Steering Committee

Morgan-Jones is chairman of the Executive Steering Committee for the competition, which also includes:

  •  Joanne Godman, Director, Clinical R&D and Communications – Shire Pharmaceuticals
  • Catherine Crane, VP International Trial Management – Sanofi
  • Susan Romberg, VP of Clinical Operations for the Americas – PRA
  • David Handelsman, Senior Manager Centre for Health Analytics and Insight – SAS
  • Chris Allen, Lead Global Medical information and Operations – MSD
  • Carol Parish, Director Clinical Development EU and EMAP – Stiefel
  • Rebecca Boone, Director Global Clinical Operations – GSK
  • Deidre Bevard, VP Development Operations – Endo Pharma
  • Barry Simms, Country Manager North America – Chiltern
  • Tara Hegarty, Senior Director for Global Project Delivery, AstraZeneca
  • Mark Lacy, CEO – Benchmark Research
  • Carolyn Dimas, Assistant Director for Global Site Development – Alcon
  • Jim Thomasell, Executive Director – ACRP
  • Susan McHale, Executive Director Study Delivery and Clinical Development – AstraZeneca
  • Colleen Anderson, Senior Director for Study Delivery and Programs – Shire
  • J’ne Autry, VP Global Monitoring Operations – Allergan
  • Karen Raudibaugh, Clinical Operations consultant
  • Deborah Copeland VP – Benchmark Research

Themes identified by the committee for the 2012 competition include risk-based monitoring and technology as a facilitator for patient recruitment. A sub-committee led by Susan Romberg, vice president of clinical operations for the Americas at competition sponsors PRA International, has been established to develop the case studies for the initial screening stages.

The first task for Executive Steering Committee was to agree the quality standard for the first phase of the competition, an online multiple-choice questionnaire based on ICH/GCP/FDA regulatory guidelines and ratified by lead examiners from competition partners and sponsors ACRP.

The qualifying score for 2012 has been raised to 80% in line with the competition’s European sister event, PharmaTimes Clinical Researcher of the Year (

SAS to host

The finals and awards take place on 8 November, 2012, at the executive briefing centre of competition sponsors and hosts, SAS, in Cary, North Carolina.

Up to 10 finalists will compete head to head for each of the six titles, including Study Nurse (working at the investigator site), New CRA (for clinical research associates with less than four years’ experience), Experienced CRA (more than four years’ experience), Trial Manager (working with a sponsor company), Project Manager (working within a CRO) and Clinical Research Team.

Jo West, from PRA International and winner of the CRA category last year, commented: “This is a first class competition. I was challenged and exhilarated from the time of entering the competition to the awards evening. I would encourage all individuals to enter the competition to reinforce and build confidence and knowledge to further their careers.”

Entry is open for the 2012 US Clinical Researcher of the Year Competition and you can find out more or enter by going to