Although collaboration between industry and academia has been a longstanding tradition in the field of drug development, existing industry forces are reshaping the nature of this partnership. According to Cytel India's Chief Executive Ajay Sathe, the projected expansion of the drug development market between now and 2017, comes at a time when both industry and academia are challenged to supply new and innovative young talent. While some universities offer comprehensive programs in computation, programming, biostatistics and bioinformatics, such an all-encompassing curriculum is rare. Even when possible, the combined contributions of these disciplines to the day-to-day challenges of statistical analysis and data management are often difficult to comprehend without industry experience.
Several years ago Cytel noticed that the number of individuals choosing to opt in to the field of drug development was declining. It resolved to take the reins to train the next generation of statistical programmers by forming the Cytel Clinical Programming Laboratory. The CliPLab welcomes aspiring programmers from a variety of academic backgrounds and industry sectors, and offers training in statistics, programming and clinical data management. By overseeing the education of early career clinical programmers, Cytel ensures that top quality talent is trained and recruited into the field.
One of the fundamental pedagogical foundations of the Cytel CliPLab is that in a dynamic industry like drug development, tutorship and mentorship must go hand in hand. A successful career aspirant must be well-versed in statistics, computation and informatics, while also learning how to innovate reliably and sensibly when confronted with a variety of development challenges. Students of CliPLab (affectionately termed CliPLabers), are introduced to drug development by some of the leading statisticians and programmers in academia and industry. They also benefit from the global reach of Cytel’s clinical research services, getting a firsthand introduction to international drug development.
Cytel hires 40 CliPLabers per year to become world class Cytel programmers. Other CliPLabers have been placed in Quintiles, Amgen, Sciformix, and ICON, amongst other leading companies.