WorldCare Clinical is on a hiring binge. The imaging-focused contract research organization (CRO), which was spun off from Massachusetts General Hospital 17 years ago, has hired three top-level executives in the last five months.

All of them came from the same company: the troubled small pharma firm Acusphere, which late last year failed to get FDA approval for a contrasting agent that uses ultrasound to diagnose heart disease. The Watertown, Mass.-based company laid off two-thirds of its work force in April.

Imaging CRO

The most recent executive to join is Asli Memisoglu, who was named director of biostatistics and data management. She held the same role at Acusphere. Before that, Memisoglu was pharmacoeconomist/outcomes scientist for Abt Associates.

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WorldCare's Memisoglu

In April, WorldCare signed on Robert Fetterman as associate director of imaging services. At Acusphere, Fetterman had been associate director of imaging science, focusing on the development of digital imaging and video processing systems for preclinical use, as well as image review systems for clinical trial use in echocardiology. He previously developed software for the Yale Nuclear Cardiology Exercise and Imaging Laboratory.

And back in January, WorldCare hired Richard Walovitch as chief medical officer. He had been Acusphere's senior VP of clinical research, overseeing preclinical and clinical strategies for product opportunities in cardiology, oncology, pulmonology and analgesia. Walovich had also held various positions as research pharmacologist and project clinician in the imaging agent group at DuPont Merck.

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Worldcare's Fetterman

“Imaging is getting very important as an endpoint,” says Walovitch. “We have put together a team of experienced people who will be able to provide a nucleus for our operational growth phase.”

Quick Turnaround

In March, WorldCare added enhanced its two year-old WorldPro image-management system with a feature called Collect, Ready, Hold. The system stores image acquisition protocols, standardizes the image acquisition collection, performs administrative and technical quality control of the images, and then archives the images in a database until a central review is required.

WorldCare was recently able to satisfy a last-minute request from a client who needed 115 not-yet-uploaded CT scans read in five days. WorldCare turned it around in two days and delivered the digital data two days later, shocking even itself, says Walovich. “That speaks to the capacity we have available now,” he says.

In all, WorldCare has processed more than 1 million images and enrolled 4,000 sites in over 50 countries. Two years ago, Cincinnati-based ProScan—one of the first companies to do teleradiology, using overseas radiologists to more cheaply read images for trials—bought a majority stake in WorldCare. Here's a longer story we wrote on WorldCare in March.

by Suz Redfearn

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