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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


2008 Salary and Satisfaction Survey of Clinical Research Professionals

Recently, Applied Clinical Trials has conducted the 2008 Salary Survey for clinical research professionals.

Behind the answers

As for the who, what, and where of the survey, we're looking at professionals from across the clinical trials field, with the majority divided three ways among pharma/biopharm/biologics companies, CROs, and study or investigative sites (see Figure 1). We received the most responses from those who described their job title as manager, clinical research associate (CRA), and clinical research coordinator (CRC). Other responders included scientists, CEOs, and medical directors (See Figure 2).

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On average, those who responded have been in their profession for 13.3 years (See Figure 3), hold at least a bachelor's degree, and 90% are employed full time. All of the major therapeutic areas are well-represented—oncology the most (see Figure 4)—so is the United States, with nearly all of the respondents calling it home, followed by Western Europe, Central Europe, Canada, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

(click the figure for better view)

Compensation in currency

So, who's making the most money? Well, there's three sides of the fiscal coin: people, business/industry, and location.

The people. The professionals earning the highest annual salaries are, no surprise, vice presidents ($149,324), chief executive officers ($127,788), and medical directors ($135,357). The explanation for why those higher up the corporate ladder earn more is straightforward. "As you rise, the scope of responsibility is much broader and that's what the pay is for," explained Carolyn Y. Woo, PhD, Dean of the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business.

In the case of medical directors, it's compensation for years spent in med school, residency, and fellowship, says Jim Brennan, director of clinical at Klein Hersh, an executive recruiting firm for life sciences. "The advanced degree and the specialization they bring to the table brings a higher salary and higher level of compensation," he explained.

Also earning six-figures are IT professionals. In fact, according to survey results, all of the respondents who indicated they work in IT earn at least $100,000 a year (see Table 1 to see where you stand among your peers). Granted, most companies today rely heavily on their IT department, which likely accounts for the generous compensation, but one industry insider also credits the fact that these professionals, in particular, require wooing. Apparently, in addition to being in high demand, they prefer IT companies over pharma or biotech companies, where they're surrounded by other IT experts.

(click the figure for better view)

Business or industry. Turns out when it comes to the highest paid industries within the industry, there's more than meets the eye, at least for the top two: drug development/clinical trials consulting companies ($111,591) and independent CRAs ($115,147). While pharma/biopharm or biologics' high third-place spot ($106,718) isn't likely to require any explanations, that's not the case for first and second place. And the reason why is the same for both. Independence requires money.

"While some people may want the flexibility, you have to market yourself, pay for your own benefits," explained former independent CRA Beth Harper, now president of Texas-based Clinical Performance Partners. "So the CRA that's got the $76,000 salary (the mean salary for CRAs who responded to the survey), if you add on their benefits, it's probably more than what an independent makes." It's a similar situation for consultants.

Location. The old real estate slogan that it's all about location holds true for salaries as well. As most folks know by now, how much you make generally depends on where you live. And in America, while we might be united, when you break the 50 states into five different regions, it becomes clear that an average annual salary isn't average across the board.

Take for instance the Midwest, where the mean salary for respondents was $77,500, the lowest among the five different regions (see Figure 5). A drive several hours west or east, however, bumps up that average by at least $21,000. In the Northwest region the mean salary for respondents is $106,979, and in the Northeast a distant $99,733. It makes sense then that the majority of respondents who earn more than $150,000 a year (29.2%) live in the Northwest. Of course, lest not forget that even the regions can be broken down.

Which brings us to cost of living. California and Washington might both be in the Northwest, but a 2,200 square-foot, four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home costs $1.8 million in Beverly Hills and $658,000 farther north in Bellevue, WA, according to a recent Coldwell Banker Home Price Comparison Index. Out east in Ridgewood, NJ, a similar home will cost you around $1 million, and $255,000 in the heart of America in St. Louis, MO. When you factor in cost of living, the divide between the highest and lowest paid regions ($29,479) shrinks.

In addition to job title, industry, and location, years of experience also influence pay, according to the data. Respondents' average salaries steadily increased with years of experience, from $88,767 for those in the industry three to five years to around $98,000 for those with 11 to 15 years experience. What's not clear is why that isn't the case for the 16 to 20 years category, where average salary drops back down to $82,361. Todd Hamberg of Klein Hersh offers one reason that might be: "People go up the mountain, get to the top, and stay there awhile, and then at the back end of their career they still want to work but don't want the headaches, so they'll take a different title."

Applied Clinical Trials

Friday, November 14, 2008


Pfizer Inc.Launches Global Regenerative Medicine Research Unit

Exciting new indeed!

Pfizer today announced the launch of a new research unit known as Pfizer Regenerative Medicine. This independent research unit will build on recent scientific progress in understanding the biology of stem cells and the opportunity that provides, to discover and develop a new generation of regenerative medicines for major medical needs. The new unit will announce several significant scientific collaborations in the coming weeks that will place Pfizer at the forefront of an emerging area of science that could one day bring hope and benefit to millions of patients worldwide.

Scientists at Pfizer Regenerative Medicine will explore the use of stem cells to develop future treatments that may prevent disability, repair failing organs and treat degenerative diseases. The ultimate goal will be to deliver new medicinal products that can pave the way for the use of cells as therapeutics.

Pfizer Regenerative Medicine represents a great opportunity to focus world-class research in a field that holds considerable promise for biomedical science and for the treatment of many debilitating conditions such as diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders. said Rod MacKenzie, PhD, head of Worldwide Research at Pfizer.

Corey Goodman, PhD, President of Pfizers Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center, said, The formation of this new unit represents another key step forward in Pfizers commitment to be at the forefront of new approaches in biotherapeutics and bioinnovation and to expand our research efforts and expertise into emerging areas of biomedical science, like regenerative medicine, that have great potential for human health.

The unit will be led by Chief Scientific Officer, Ruth McKernan, PhD, who said Im very excited to lead this new research unit. While there is still a lot to understand about how stem cells can be used therapeutically, we believe it is one of the most promising areas of scientific research.

Pfizer Regenerative Medicine will operate as one of Pfizers new small, independent research units to help it foster a biotechnology culture and environment. A key component to the success of the units will be collaboration with leading academic, biotech and pharmaceutical partners around the world. Details of Pfizers scientific collaborations will be announced in the coming weeks.

Pfizer Regenerative Medicine will be co-located in the biotech hubs of Cambridge, UK and Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States. It is expected to expand to employ around 70 researchers. Scientists will operate in small, flexible teams, with the capability to make decisions quickly and effectively.

The Cambridge UK site is based at Granta Park and positions Pfizer in one of the strongest biotech regions in Europe. This unit will focus on neural and sensory disorders. The Cambridge, Massachusetts site is based at Pfizers Research Technology Centre (RTC) and will focus on endocrine and cardiac research.

Pfizer Regenerative Medicine capabilities will be complemented by Pfizers vast resources including R&D scale and experience, a nimble and growing biotherapeutics organization, a growing network of alliances and collaborations and a vast array of drug discovery technologies, including tools and expertise developed during Pfizers 15 years of stem cell research.


Postdoctoral Positions In The Hamner Institutes (formly CIIT)

The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences is seeking postdoctoral fellows with Ph.D., D.V.M., or M.D. degrees to participate in research. Hamner research programs focus on creating mechanistic information to reduce uncertainty in estimating human health risks from chemical exposures. Candidates in the life, physical, and engineering sciences are encouraged to apply. Hamner doctoral staff members have backgrounds in aerosol science, molecular and cellular biology, veterinary medicine, pharmacology and toxicology, pathology, biochemistry, chemistry, biomathematics, biostatistics, and engineering. The Hamner offers exciting opportunities to use contemporary research approaches and instrumentation to address real-world issues. Over the past 25 years, more than 400 postdoctoral fellows have been trained at The Hamner and are now employed in responsible positions in industrial, government, and academic organizations.

Appointments are typically two years in length. The Hamner offers a highly competitive salary and benefits package and a stimulating research environment. Interested candidates should complete a Postdoctoral Fellowship Application Form that can be obtained electronically or by calling The Hamner's job line at 919-558-1401. The Hamner is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Obama Win Could Give A Boost To Stem Cell Research

Today, ABC News gave a good overview how Obama's win could affect the long-standing ban on embryonic stem cell research.

For Dr. George Daley, Sen. Barack Obama's recent victory in the U.S. presidential election was a hopeful sign for an issue he holds close to his heart -- and which he believes has the potential to save lives.

The issue is stem cell research. And Daley, immediate past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, says that, since the election, hopes have been high that the next four years could signal an era of greater flexibility for scientists in the field.

"We are hopeful that removing restrictions on funding for stem cells will be one of the first acts of the Obama presidency," Daley said.

"In the research community, we would all breathe a sigh of relief."

The restrictions, which have been in place since 1994, have been seen by many in the field as a stifling force. Though such research was still possible through private and state dollars, the creation of and experimentation on such lines quickly became taboo for many universities and other research centers under fear of scrutiny.

The first hint of a policy change came Aug. 30 when the group Science Debate 2008 received a response to questions they posed to both the Obama and McCain campaigns regarding their positions on federal funds for stem cell research.

"I strongly support expanding research on stem cells," the response from the Obama team reads. "I believe that the restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations.

"As president, I will lift the current administration's ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after Aug. 9, 2001 through executive order, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight."

Most researchers shared Daley's enthusiasm. "The next administration adopts the mainstream view of the majority of Americans: that stem cell research offers the best hope and potential for some of the desperately needed cures for currently untreatable diseases," said James Douglas Engel, professor and chair of the department of cell and developmental biology at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. "Obviously, if federal funds become available for this research it will hasten our goal of developing cures for these diseases."

Others said that such a move could put the United States on pace with Israel, Australia, Canada, Japan and a number of Western European countries that have adopted flexible policies to push embryonic stem cell research.

"Politically, this will have an important effect on providing an open policy for stem cell research in the U.S., and could help increase our country's status as a leader in the field," said Dr. Paul Sanberg, director of the Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

But not all agreed that such a reversal would have an immediate positive effect.

"This is principally form over substance," said Tim McCaffrey, director of The George Washington University Medical Center's Catherine Birch McCormick Genomics Center in Washington, D.C.

"The benefit to the health of the American public will result only from substantial and sustained increases to the NIH budget," McCaffrey said. "Simply changing a particular regulation about the use of federal funds to create new lines will have no impact whatsoever when the funding to take advantage of stem cells is quite limited."

Lifting a Longstanding Ban

The first executive branch move to block federal funding for the creation of embryos for stem cell research came in 1994 under the pen of President Bill Clinton. This position was reinforced by President George W. Bush, who, in August 2001, strengthened the ban on federal funding by barring federal funds for research on all but a few existing embryonic stem cell lines.

What should and should not happen to embryos remains a source of intense debate. Embryos, which are balls of cells created by putting a sperm cell and an egg cell together and allowing the result to divide, are valuable to researchers because they represent a source of undifferentiated cells not programmed to be any type of cell in particular.

In essence, an embryonic stem cell is a blank check; scientists hope we will eventually be able to control the development of these cells, making them into whatever tissues are needed.

While some maintain that research on new embryonic cell lines could one day yield treatments and cures for devastating illnesses, others say the embryos represent human life and should not be destroyed.

But with the adversity of the ban came some new approaches. Among these was the advent of induced pluripotent (iPS) cells -- cells which are nudged into a state from which they can differentiate into a limited number of different cell types. Researchers agree that these cells do not have the degree of flexibility afforded by their embryonic counterparts, but they have, nonetheless, allowed for limited therapeutic research.

Other research that has qualified for federal funding has focused on so-called adult stem cells -- cells which are extracted from adult tissues and tweaked to yield other cell types.

Dr. Neil Theise, an adult stem cell researcher and professor of pathology and medicine at the Beth Israel Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said that a lifting of the embryonic stem cell research ban would "lift the need for political opposition to adult stem cell research, as well" and have benefits across the board for all forms of stem cell research.

"It is by pursuing both paths that practical therapeutic and industrial benefits can manifest in the swiftest, most safe and cost-effective manner," he said.

Lifting Ban May Not Mean More Money

But others believe that opening the gates to federal funds could have the exact opposite effect, actually decreasing the amount of money available to researchers.

"Unless there is a boost in funding for this research at the NIH, it is highly likely that funding for currently allowed research will actually decrease as the pool of funds gets diluted by new applications," Sanberg said. "Overall funding for stem cell research in our country could decrease if the states feel less inclined to fund their own stem cell initiatives in a downward economy, thinking that the federal government is now funding all stem cell research."

Groups opposed to embryonic stem cell research predicted such a slip in overall funding, as well.

"The concern with new federal policies is that any rush to create new lines from embryos will simply siphon valuable funds away from research with much greater potential, including iPS cells, and especially existing and developing adult stem cell therapies that are already treating patients for dozens of diseases," said David Prentice, senior fellow for life sciences for the Family Research Council, a Christian political organization that opposes embryonic stem cell research.

By Dan Childs

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