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Panel Discussion (English with some Telugu):



What are the career prospects for Clinical Research in India?

Clinical research is an attractive industry for researchers in India, because it foresees tremendous growth and job opportunities not only for trained medical, pharmaceutical and paramedical professionals, but also for project management staff, regulatory authorities, government and the society at large. With the inflow of multinational players in Indian clinical research, the industry is poised to grow exponentially and open up new vistas of employment for a large number of people.

Candidates can build their careers in the fields of 

  • Contract Research Organizations (CRO)
  • Pharmaceutical Industries
  • Biotechnology Companies
  • Medical Device Company
  • Patient Recruitment Organisations (PRO)
  • Clinical Data Management
  • Regulatory Affairs 
  • Pharmacovigilance 
  • Medical Writing 
  • Central Lab 
  • Logistics and Courier Services
  • Research Sites
  • Auditing of Clinical Trials

“Industry” Clinical Research is conducted by the Pharmaceuticals, Biotech and Medical Device companies. They often outsource their work to Contract Research Organizations (CRO Company). The CRO perform the clinical trial on behalf of the company in collaboration with the Site / Hospital or SMO (Site Management Organization). 

Other types of research (“non-industry”) may be conducted by universities, non-profit organizations, and charities. These groups may also sometimes employ CROs to perform some trial activities, but are perhaps more likely to run activities themselves, focusing on building local research capacity.  

Options for research careers

Every clinical study is led by a principal investigator. These investigators can be researchers, professors, medical practitioners and scientists/ medical specialists. Besides them, clinical studies may also have a research team that may include nurses, social workers and other health care professionals. 

Varied options are available in the field of Clinical Research, as follows: 

  • Clinical Research Associate
  • Clinical Research Managers (CRM)
  • Biostatisticians
  • Clinical Research Investigator/ Physician
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Clinical Data Manager
  • Data clerk
  • Research Nurse
  • Research training manager
  • Research site manager
  • Clinical Research Counsellor
  • Clinical Research Auditor
  • Pharmacovigilance Manager
  • Quality Assurance (QA)
  • Project Manager and Marketing Executives
  • Account Directors
  • Clinical Auditors
  • Contract Managers
  • Drug Safety Scientist
  • Regulatory Affairs Manager
  • Laboratory staff
  • Translators 

Career opportunities in clinical research is based on the academic qualification of the individuals. Some common career paths in India are outlined below:

•Doctors - Doctors are appointed in Clinical trials as Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator, Medical Advisor, Drug Developers, Regulatory Affairs Manager, Clinical Research Physician.

•Pharmacists, Life Science graduates, Science postgraduates in Biochemistry - They are appointed as Site Coordinators, Clinical Research Associate, Medical writers, Clinical Research Manager and Drug Development Associate, Biostatistician, Quality assurance

•Management Graduates (MBA) - MBA graduates sometimes enter areas of Business Development, Clinical Project Management, Clinical Research Management, Regulatory Affair Management.

•Nursing graduates – research Nursing, sometimes moving into other areas such as trial managers 

IT professionals, Biostatistician, Engineers, postgraduates in Maths, Applied Maths, operational Research, Statistics - These professionals can find opening as Clinical Data Manager, Drug Development Associate

There are various growth opportunities along the way for those who are keen to learn. For those interested in serious research work, a PhD can be a good solution. There are post graduate degrees and diplomas offered by various colleges which come in handy to enhance one's career prospects. Specialization in branches of pharmacy, life sciences, biochemistry will be useful. Studying further will also help one in bettering their current job profile. For instance doing masters will enhance the job prospects of a CRA to become a Project Manager. Similarly a PhD in a related discipline is needed to become a Medical Director. There are various options for scholarships and grants for PhD opportunities, so it is worth looking for these. Some free learning options are also available too, such as The Global Health Training Centre’s free eLearning courses.

What is the total worth of the industry in India presently?

The global clinical research industry is worth more than US $52 billion. The global pharmaceutical market is estimated at US $427 billion and research and development cost is estimated at US $60-65 billion annually. Two-third of this amount is spent on drug development i.e. approximately US $40 billion. Clinical trials involve almost 70% of time and money of new drug development. The cost of conducting clinical trials for a new drug is approximately US $200-250 million. Clinical research industry has grown around the world at an unparalleled rate in the past few years. It has opened up new vistas of employment for a large number of people. 

What are some good universities that offer training in clinical research? Any NGO’s offering training related courses or resources?

Clinical research degrees, masters courses and diplomas are offered by some institutions, but can be costly. Hwoever, there are often grants and scholarships available for candidates from low and middle income countries, so this is one possibility; for example London School offer a reputable clinical trials masters with distance learning option and some scholarships. It is yet to become an official discipline with universities in India. 

On the other hand, other training options are available, such as local courses that your employer may cover. The Global Health Network provides GCP and GCLP courses, research ethics, and many other elearning modules and A to Z resources for conducting Clinical research, GHT runs Career month every year providing  career guidance such as career development resources, jobs portal, Ask the expert, all of which are free of cost.