MDS Pharma Services, a provider of contract research, drug discovery and development solutions, has won the Good Clinical Practice Journal (GCPj) Award for the clinical research program that best promotes access to new medicines. MDS Pharma Services’ parent company, MDS Inc., recently reported net income of $7 million in its first full quarter. The revenue for MDS Pharma Services grew four percent to $118 million.

The contract research organization (CRO) Clinsys Clinical Research has appointed Hartmut Schmied vice president of the company’s European operations based in Dusseldorf, Germany. Before joining Clinsys, Schmied was executive director of European operations for Medifacts International, as well as that company’s global head of clinical research.

The first locally based, African-owned contract research organization (CRO) in South Africa has been launched. African Clinical Research Organization is a collaboration between Lifelab, the East Coast Biotechnology Innovation Centre (a trust established in 2002 by the Department of Science & Technology to implement the national biotechnology strategy) and local biotechnology company Batswadi Pharmaceuticals. The new company will focus initially on Phase I-IV clinical trials for infectious diseases and also will service the biotechnology sector of South Africa. According to Andre Kudlinsky, director of geographic projects for the South African Department of Trade and Industry, the South African clinical research industry was worth about $300 million in 2006, and has doubled in value since 2000. The new firm will be managed by Mary-Ann Richardson, who previously worked for global CROs and chaired the South African Clinical Research Association in 2004.

The CRO West Coast Clinical Trials (WCCT) has named Yves Grenon its new vice president of business development. Grenon will lead the business development team and play a crucial role in the development of WCCT’s clinical research activities. Grenon has 14 years of experience in the CRO industry.

Image Solutions, a software company that focuses on the clinical trials industry, has agreed to acquire Zurich Biostatistics, a company that provides training and support related to regulatory drug submissions. Image Solutions said the acquisition will bolster its new biometrics service line.

Seeking better ways to design and conduct clinical trials, the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Public Health has established the Center for Innovative Clinical Trials. This is the first Gillings Innovation Laboratory—interdisciplinary research groups funded initially through a gift to the UNC School of Public Health from Dennis and Joan Gillings. The center will develop new methods of collecting and analyzing data from clinical trials, and then make these scientific advances available to researchers, practitioners, the biomedical community and the public as a whole. Joseph G. Ibrahim, alumni, distinguished professor of biostatistics at the UNC School of Public Health, and director of the biostatistics core at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, said: “We want to find ways to speed up and improve the clinical trial process, and make it a more efficient, precise assessment of treatments, whether they are drugs, devices, or behavior modification programs. The ultimate goal is better health care.”

Competitive Technologies (CTT), a technology company and contract research organization (CRO), and NCS Pharmaceuticals announced that they have formed a strategic alliance. NCS will work with CTT in the therapeutic drug, medical diagnostic, analytical testing and nutraceutical markets. NCS will evaluate the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of selected therapeutic analogues of current or newly acquired technologies in CTT’s portfolio.

The contract research organization (CRO) United BiosSource plans to open an Ann Arbor office and hire as many as 50 people over the next two years. The company recently leased nearly 11,000 square feet of space to house an office that will focus on research and development consulting services for new pharmaceutical and life science companies. Company general manager John Oates said that they have already hired 13 people locally, 11 of them being ex-Pfizer workers.

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