A new post-graduate diploma in clinical research, claimed to be the only qualification of its kind in New Zealand, has been launched by Victoria University as part of a wider partnership on research, teaching and technology transfer with the Capital & Coast District Health Board (C&C DHB).

The diploma is a distance learning course that will provide clinical researchers with, among other things, the capabilities to pursue drug development and conduct clinical trials, Victoria University says.

It will be taught mostly online by the university’s staff, together with clinicians from the C&C DHB and the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand (MRINZ), with Victoria University also providing academic leadership.

According to the university, its Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Research, which begins in July, “delivers the high-level clinical research skills essential to the health and pharmaceutical sectors in New Zealand and the world”.

There is “a need within the health sector for a clinical research qualification, and this diploma takes the best of both the academic and clinical health worlds to strengthen clinical research”, commented Pat Walsh, vice chancellor of Victoria University.

The university and the C&C DHB recently signed a memorandum of understanding of New Zealand and the country’s health professions.

US-based contract research organisation PRA International recently set up a legal entity in New Zealand, saying the country was a key location for clinical studies in skin cancer, multiple sclerosis, asthma and a number of other conditions.

Among the benefits of the local clinical research environment, PRA cited traditionally high recruitment rates across major therapeutic areas such as cardiology, respiratory diseases and gastrointestinal conditions; an efficient regulatory environment; and counter-seasonality for trials involving allergies or influenza.