Mumbai: Reliance Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, SIRO Clinpharm Pvt. Ltd and Bilcare Ltd, all companies with interests in the clinical research business have started clinical research schools that will offer courses to individuals interested in a career in the domain in an effort to address their own needs for skilled manpower.
Bilcare Research Academy and Reliance School of Life Sciences are set to offer one-year post-graduate diplomas and SIRO Institute of Clinical Research, a four-month one. Clinical research is essentially research conducted on human participants and is a critical part of the drug development process for both pharmaceutical and biotech firms.
“The Reliance School of Life Sciences is our response to the imperative of competency building, not just to meet our internal needs, but also that of the industry,” said Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd, one of the promoters of Reliance Life Sciences. He is also the chairman of the governing board of Reliance School of Life Sciences.
According to estimates by companies in the clinical research business, global demand for clinical research professionals will exceed 2.5 lakh by 2010.
A significant portion of this demand will come from India and China, which are increasingly being seen as centres to which clinical research can be outsourced by large global pharmaceutical firms.
According to Bilcare Research Academy chief scientific officer Praful Naik, the complexity involved in the clinical research industry is very high and people require different skill sets for different functions. “We believe that there is a gap in the skill sets that are required by the industry and the ones that new recruits come in with and we are trying to address this gap,” he added.
Bilcare Research Academy claims that its students would be trained by experts from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals, a body that certifies clinical research professionals across the world.
The one-year post-graduate diploma programme in clinical research management offered by Bilcare Research Academy costs Rs3 lakh, while a one-year diploma programme at Reliance School of Life Sciences will cost Rs1 lakh. SIRO’s four-month programme aims to meet the company’s in-house requirements.
“The main objective (of setting up this school) is to fuel our own ambitious expansion plans with quality trained personnel,” said Samyuktha Ajay, head of the training initiative at SIRO. Only students with a degree in medicine, pharmacy, or life sciences are eligible for the courses being offered by all three schools.
India already has around seven schools offering clinical research programmes.
While the three new schools are associated with companies that have a significant presence in the area, people in the clinical research business, who did not wish to be identified, said that some of the schools were being set up by entrepreneurs focused on making a quick buck.
Some of the schools were offering distance learning options, a head of a school that is associated with a clinical research company said. “We wonder whether clinical research can be taught this way,” he wondered.
“Every industry that has gone through a rapid growth phase, such as information technology, bio-informatics and medical transcription, saw rapid growth in training institutes. We are beginning to see a similar situation with clinical research now,” said an instructor at a Mumbai-based medical college.