CREMA – Clinical Research Education and Management Academy, is a premier training and research institute in Clinical and Biomedical studies. Launched in 2007 in Mumbai, it runs three campuses at Bengaluru, New Delhi and Hyderabad and plans to set up three more centers by the end of 2009. Last year CREMA started a full-time Advanced Post Graduate Ddiploma in Clinical Research.
eHEALTH caught up with Vijay Moza, Chairman, CREMA, a pioneer in introducing clinical research education and site management organisation in the country, and also an active advisory member of Indian Society of Clinical Research (ISCR) – a non-profit organisation promoting Clinical Research in India.
Q. How did CREMA come up?
A. I have been a part of ICRI, the institute which pioneered clinical research education in India, for about four years. In 2007, I decided to start my own institute. I have been regularly interacting with the CEOs of clinical research organisations (CROs) and pharmaceutical companies to get the pulse of the industry. I kept the duration of our program one year as there was an acute shortage of skilled clinical research professionals, while the industry was growing fast. As the clinical research professionals were lacking in project management and communication skills, we put emphasis on honing the soft skills of our students.
Q. What makes CREMA different from other clinical research institutes?
A. I think the industry-driven curriculum sets us apart from other institutes. I strongly believe that industry should endorse upcoming educational fields like clinical research as ultimately they are the employers. They are the ones who can guide us on customising the curriculum according to the needs of the industry, as clinical research is relatively a new domain. CREMA’s core committee comprises of Who’s Who of industry, who help us in upgrading our curriculum on a regular basis to enable students and practitioners to stay up-to-date with prevailing practices.
Q. It has become a trend in private institutions to tie up with foreign universities. How important are foreign affiliations for CREMA?
A. Our tie-up with William Harvey Research Ltd (WHRL), UK, help students get global exposure through lectures by internationally-renowned faculty and the exchange programs. CREMA has also formed a joint venture with Canada-based Clinical Research International, well-known for its online education in clinical research, by which students can enroll for online certification courses. Students qualifying in these courses will get an added recognition in the industry.
Q. With India surpassing China to become Asia’s most popular destination for conducting clinical trials how do you see the career prospects of clinical research in India?
A. There is a phenomenal scope for clinical research business in India. Currently we have about 370 CROs in India and the boom in yet to come. India is at an advantage due to its huge pool of patients and lower infrastructure costs. Clinical research is a recession-proof industry as it is less expensive for foreign companies to conduct trials here. As the Indian government have become more strict on regulations, it is a very win-win situation. So, the career prospects are very bright for clinical research professionals.
Q. Comment on the industry’s concern about the quality of clinical research professionals passing out from various institutes that have sprung up in recent years?
A. It’s true that many sub-standard clinical research institutes have come up in India in recent times but I have also observed that such institutes don’t stay for long as the market is very competitive. You need state-of-the-art infrastructure and renowned faculty to run a clinical research institute which requires huge investments. So, in longer run only the ones who take it seriously will survive.
Q. Suggest some ways to make clinical research a mainstream career?
A. Clinical research has opened a new career path for many medical graduates as well as graduates in Life Sciences, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Pharmacy, Nursing etc. Some years back many of such graduates would struggle for years. However, now passing out from an institute like ours enables the student to earn a starting salary of around Rs. 20,000 a month.
The government should seriously consider making clinical research part of the university curriculum. There has to be diploma, graduate and PG programs in universities.
Q. Could you tell us about the placements at CREMA?How about the remuneration?
A. CREMA students achieved successful placement in reputed companies namely CliniRx, Sun Pharma, TCS, Cognizant, Novartis, Piramal Life Sciences, Quintiles, Sanofi Aventis and many more. Depending on the qualification and aptitude, an average trained professional can earn about Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 per month. With work experience of about 3-4 years, one can earn about a lakh rupees per month.