Summary of Clinical Research Centres/Networks Leaders Survey - November 2004

Pre-Workshop Survey of Canadian Leaders of Clinical Research Centres and Networks


November 2004

The CIHR Clinical Research Initiative organized a workshop on Clinical Research Centres/Networks in Toronto on November 1st, 2004.  Thirty-eight (38) directors/leaders of clinical research centres and networks attended the workshop.  A report of this workshop is available online [ (2,300 KB) | Help ]. Prior to the November 1st meeting, the opinions of workshop participants on success factors, challenges and threats to existing clinical research centres/networks, as well as to a potential national program of clinical research centres/networks were sampled by use of a questionnaire.  The goal of this exercise was to aid in planning the workshop.  Completed surveys were received from twenty-four (24) of the leaders.

The survey first asked respondents to identify the elements which contributed to the success of their centres/networks.  More than half (52%) of respondents listed “fostering a spirit of collaboration among researchers” as one of the key aspects contributing to the success of their centre/network.  Also frequently cited was the development of a centralized support service office (staff familiar with regulatory environment, biostatistics, data management, project management, clinical trials, etc), good communication between researchers and administrators, good relationship with collaborating institutions, establishment of core operating procedures used by all researchers in the centre/network, and finally recruitment of high quality researchers.

Three quarters (75%) of respondents identified poor financial support as the key challenge to the success of existing centres/networks.  Also mentioned were the complex and strict regulatory and ethics standards, the lack of research space, and challenges associated with collaborations.

Respondents were then asked to consider what form of new infrastructure would most benefit Canadian clinical research in the next 10-15 years.  The most frequent responses were infrastructure/technical support, as well as networked centres.  Twenty-seven percent (27%) of respondents felt that the creation of 4-6 new centres would be optimal, although answers ranged from one to over twenty.  There was a general sense that the clinical research centres/networks should be located in university teaching hospitals (54%), and that they should be located in relation to expertise rather than geography (36%).  Nineteen (19) out of 22 responded that self-governance was desirable, with various comments about the need for a national committee governing council and oversight from funding agencies.

The funding sources identified were joint ventures (82%), and these generally referred to CIHR, industry, CFI, and provincial agencies, but others were considered as well, including health charities, provincial ministries of health, universities and hospitals.  Given finite resources, roughly a quarter of respondents felt that $50M (or $1-5M/centre) would be sufficient to establish clinical research centres/networks, but answers ranged from less than $1M to over $250M.  Almost half of respondents felt that $1-25M/year ($1-5M/year/centre) would be required annually to operate these centres.

Respondents felt that the creation and funding of clinical research centres would allow Canada to become internationally competitive (43%), favour knowledge translation (33%), increase the quality of the research (24%), improve our health care system (24%), encourage the development of new clinician-scientists (18%), and increase the quantity of clinical research conducted in this country (18%).

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