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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014
Cure strengths
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 19, 2013
First Published: 15:42 IST(19/3/2013)
Last Updated: 15:46 IST(19/3/2013)
At your service: The aim of clinical research is to improve health care in society by making safe and effective drugs available at low cost

The lowdown


Clinical research is part of medical science devoted to the study of effects of medicines on patients. The purpose of the study is to bring new medicines into the market. The clinical trials that are done for the purpose are under direct monitoring of pharmaceutical companies. However, there is another group comprising clinical researchers who primarily work in hospitals. They are the doctors, clinicians basically, who create formulas to treat patients. They work on new treatment patterns for existing diseases, but pharmaceutical companies might not monitor their work. There is immense scope within the pharmaceutical industry and within the hospital set-up. People in hospitals, primarily doctors, conduct clinical research on patients. Then there are clinical researchers in the pharmaceutical industry or the clinical research organisations (CROs) that supervise/monitor the research (conducted in hospitals). Apart from hospitals and medical research organisations, clinical researchers can work for pharmaceutical companies and CROs

Clockwork
An average day of a clinical researcher can be as follows:
9am: Reach workplace. Plan for the clinical trial projects that are underway or will take place shortly
10.30am: Work related to project management. Schedule for the trials is prepared
11.30am: Data collection work begins at the hospital
12 noon: Interact with the team led by the investigator in the hospital
1.30pm: Data collection work 4.30pm: Prepare travel plans
5pm: Prepare detailed report on the clinical trials that have taken place in the day at the hospital.
6pm: Interact with the superiors/bosses
7pm: Call it a day, if one is lucky

The investigators — the doctors who conduct clinical trials — have a different schedule. All of their time is spent with the patients on whom the trials are done at the hospital

The payoff
Entry level: Rs. 3 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh per annum
Middle level: Rs. 7 lakh per annum
Senior level: Rs. 15 lakh per annum
Clinical researchers in a government set-up earn less than this

Skills/TRAITS
* Integrity. It is a must because scientific experiments are conducted on humans
* Basic management skills. This is more applicable to clinical researchers working in the industry because they need to monitor the trials that are taking place
* Good analytical skills to interpret the great amount of data collected through clinical trials 
* An eye for detail and accuracy

Getting there
Take up physics, chemistry, and biology in senior school. You will have to then write the tests for admission to medical colleges. Do your MBBS. Specialise in a field after that. Acquire training in good clinical practice (GCP). Become a clinical researcher. You need not be a medical practitioner if you work in the industry. A degree in paramedical sciences or life sciences will make you eligible, too. However you need to be trained in GCP

Institutes and URLs
* Christian Medical College, Vellore www.cmch-vellore.edu
* National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali   www.niper.gov.in
* Institute of Clinical Research, New Delhi www.icriindia.com
* Bombay College of Pharmacy www.bcpindia.org
* Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi www.jamiahamdard.edu

Pros and cons
* It is a noble profession as you develop new medicines that can cure millions
* The challenge involved is worth doing the job
* Salaries are high, especially at the middle and senior level
* It is not as glamorous as it is projected to be. It involves real hard work
* Work may involve travel

A career in clinical research is satisfying and provides an opportunity to improve the quality of human life by determining the effectiveness and safety of medications -- Krathish Bopanna, president, Indian Society of Clinical Research and chief executive officer at Semler Research Centre, Bangalore


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