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Regional health systems form research consortium

April 20, 2018

Six regional health systems have announced the founding of a nonprofit clinical research consortium — Partners in Innovation, Education and Research (PIER Consortium) — a streamlined clinical trial system that will span New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The founding members of PIER Consortium include Atlantic Health System, Drexel University, Einstein Healthcare Network, Geisinger including AtlantiCare, Main Line Health and Thomas Jefferson University.

Clinical trials have traditionally been offered at academic medical centers and through affiliated hospitals to ensure patients are treated safely and effectively with the best standard of care. Unfortunately for patients, this can mean traveling many miles, sometimes across the country, for novel treatment. The PIER Consortium™ will bring clinical trial sites to larger numbers of patients, while also bringing new treatments to market faster.

“The concept for creating a world-class, collaborative, clinical research network of regional health institutions began in 2013 with the arrival of Steve Klasko as Jefferson’s president and CEO,” said Dr. David Whellan, senior associate provost for clinical research at Jefferson and chief operating officer of PIER.

“Our vision is to advance patient care in the moment and improve quality of life and outcomes in the future.”

“Main Line Health is proud to be a founding member of the consortium,” said Jack Lynch, president and CEO of Main Line Health.

“Since 1927, Main Line Health has been conducting research that has brought innovative new treatments, diagnostic tools and medical devices to patients. We look forward to collaborating with our health care partners in PIER to continue that drive to advance breakthroughs and help our patients stay well and live longer, healthier lives.”

The goal of having a broad network of physician-researchers is to speed up the clinical trial process and deliver effective therapies to patients sooner.

“It can take decades to prove a medication or other treatment is safe and effective for a particular disease, which can be too late for many patients seeking treatment,” Whellan said.

An estimated 80 percent of clinical trials fail to finish on time. Having contracts in place and physicians identified could allow trials to both start and reach participation capacity more quickly.

The expertise shared across sites through PIER will allow clinical researchers to enroll patients in trials more quickly, and streamline the clinical trial process across institutions. This will create a more effective process for patients, trial sponsors and researchers.

“PIER offers turn-key solutions with one contract and a single Institutional Review Board. With physician champions at each site, start-up activities will be coordinated to help each site hit the ground running,” Whellan said.

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