Western Australia has its first ever facility for early-phase clinical trials, following the official opening of a AUD9.4 million unit by the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research at the QEII Medical Centre in Nedlands, a suburb of Perth.

The new facility, the fifth early-phase centre in Australia overall, will be run by a wholly-owned WAIMR subsidiary, Linear Clinical Research Limited, which operates as a not-for-profit company.

According to Linear, the WAIMR unit is the most advanced early-phase clinical trial facility in Australia, offering “unique” collaborations with hospital-based principal investigators, researchers and medical institutes through its close links to the WAIMR as well as Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Royal Perth Hospital and Fremantle Hospital.

The new facility will be headed by Cameron Johnson, who has held a number of co-ordinator and managerial positions across a range of Phase I to Phase IV clinical trial operations in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, Australia as well as London, UK.

Clinical trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry contribute around AUD15 million a year to the economy of Western Australia. WAIMR deputy director Professor Peter Leedman said the state had for some time been internationally recognised as a site for Phase II and III clinical trials.

Now a growing number of companies were interested in conducting Phase I trials in Australia, and “we’ve already been fielding calls and providing information about this new facility”, he added. The WAIMR also expects the facility to draw in more later-phase trials to Western Australia.