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Innovation & Job News

Saint Mary's Health Care Opens New "Community" Clinical Trial Unit



Before a medication makes it onto a pharmacist's counter or the storeroom shelves, it has to go through multiple levels of testing and years of research and development. One of the most important steps in the process is Phase 1 clinical trials, where actual drug compounds are used on human trial participants and the safety, tolerability and effectiveness are closely monitored. Up until now, no such testing facility has been available in Grand Rapids.

This month, Saint Mary's Health Care will open the first "community" Phase 1 clinical trial unit in West Michigan. Emphasis is on the word "community" because the idea was born four years ago as a potential collaboration between Saint Mary's, Van Andel Research Institute and MSU's College of Human Medicine. Additionally, the clinic is available to the health sciences "community" of West Michigan. Sponsors, such as pharmaceutical companies or medical manufacturers (from basically anywhere in the country), can partner with the center and use it as a resource for their own drug studies.

The clinic opens the door for local West Michigan patients suffering from ailments to be part of local studies on the drugs, but will also draw interest nationally due to websites such as clinicalconnection.com for communities of people searching for clinical trials.

"The community aspect was important to us," explains Susan Hoppough, RN, PhD, and Saint Mary’s director of research and innovation, "and [we believe] it is the first of its kind in the Trinity Health system," which is the parent organization of Saint Mary's Health Care and operates in seven states.

The new 6000-square-foot clinic is a renovation of existing space within Saint Mary's main hospital campus and contains two separate, 4-bed areas for different study parameters. Highly attuned systems including "atomic clocks" are used throughout the unit. Studies will look into treatments for CNS (central nervous system disorders), oncology, diabetes, nephrology, and HIV/AIDS. 

Brian Berryhill, research pharmacist at Saint Mary's Health Care, will head up the studies at the new clinic. 

Saint Mary's new Phase I clinical unit is one more way that Grand Rapids area health care partners are collaboratively bringing translational science to the growing life sciences industry in the region. 

Source:  Susan Hoppough, Saint Mary's Health Care
Writer: Jeff Hill, Publisher at Rapid Growth Media
Photography: Jeff Hill

Pictured:
Brian Berryhill, Research Pharmacist and Susan Hoppough, RN, PhD, and Saint Mary’s Director of Research and Innovation

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