Contract research organizations (CROs) or contract research management organizations (CRMOs) may not seem as appealing as working in R&D for a big pharma company or being in on the ground floor of a biotech startup, but it can have a lot of advantages—including plenty of career opportunities.
“We can never find enough people really in any of the functional areas within a drug trial,” said Steve Matas, Senior Vice President of Staffing for Advanced Clinical, which is both a CRO and a recruiter for CROs and biopharma companies. “There’s way more need than people. There’s a huge gap.”
CROs provide a variety of services to biotech and pharmaceutical companies. In many cases, CROs handle much of the technical aspects of clinical trials, contracting out clinical research assistants (CRAs) to physicians’ offices, hospitals or biopharma companies. But it doesn’t stop there.
Matas said, “One of our lines of business is a CRO where we outsource work and perform it for sponsors’ drug trials. We also offer services where we take functional areas of a trial and outsource them, and we provide staffing to sponsors when they need them. So when they need 10 CRAs for a trial, or a clinical research manager (CRM), we provide those people on a contract basis.”
But as a CRO, Matas notes that they handle all functional areas, whether it’s clinical trial management, project management, CRAs, the entire data management areas and development areas.
It all depends on the CRO. Some handle every aspect of drug development, while others have niche specializations. For example, Jeff Mayhew, Chief Development Officer of CRO LabConnect, says they’re a specialized CRO.
“We are a laboratory services company, which is how I like to define us,” Mayhew said. “Very broadly, we focus 100% of our business in supporting clinical trials. As such, we have a number of different services and products. We started off in the industry as a central laboratory. As a central lab, we collect samples from investigator sites around the globe and provide centralized testing, and project and data management services for our clients to help them execute their trials.”