6 trends every clinical research professional should know

6 trends every clinical research professional should know

What industry trends can clinical research professionals expect in 2019 and beyond? There has been renewed merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors. The M&A activities open up new opportunities for candidates in growing areas such as CRISPR and gene and stem cell therapies. This ongoing wave of M&A, as well as a number of other industrywide developments, will have a significant impact on clinical researchprofessionals—those who are currently employed and those who are looking for their next position.

1. Continued M&A activity in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology segments 

M&A activity will continue to increase in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors—life sciences M&A activity in 2018 totaled $198 billion USD. With the rapid pace of technology change in life sciences companies, we will likely see M&A activity pick up around digital alliance platforms and biopharma conventional activities. Focused therapies and related products will be heavily invested in throughout 2019. Four therapeutic segments of particular note include: oncology, immunology, infectious disease, and cardiovascular disease. These, among others, will create tremendous opportunities for clinical research professionals.

2. Greater role of artificial intelligence

Organizations in the life sciences industry are using innovative technologies to enhance their thinking and give their scientists a better start and more chances for success. As such, the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is more about enhancing the work than replacing the expertise of human scientists. However, there will be a shift in the types of skills that will be in demand, as scientists will have to know how to leverage AI to their advantage. This development will also create more jobs, especially in the areas of advanced predictive analytics and data science.

3. Concentrations of contract research organizations

The already strong trend of outsourcing clinical research to contract research organizations (CROs) will continue to become more prevalent in many life sciences companies. Because CROs already have specialized talent at their disposal and processes in place that are in compliance with regulatory guidelines, they offer pharmaceutical companies the ability to quickly initiate studies without having to ramp up their workforce or redirect focus away from their core competencies.

4. Patient-centric models

The immense increase in personalized data recording, transmission, and analysis, combined with the fact that patients are more informed and connected than ever, has prompted a distinct shift toward patient-centric models. This means that the information flow in studies, trials, and treatment plans is initiated by the patient—many times by way of wearable technologies. As a result, professionals will be handling more patient-specific data and combining it with big data to create effective, personalized treatment plans.

5. Clinical research talent hubs

In recent years, there's been an emergence of hubs of clinical research professionals close to the pharmaceutical development centers in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, the Pacific Coast, and the Central Midwest. This is a logical development since many professionals prefer to be close to where the work is. However, talent clusters can sometimes mean the competition for jobs in those areas is stronger than usual. Professionals will need to distinguish themselves by their achievements, as well as maintain strong networks, in order to get the jobs they want. Clinical research professionals often enjoy remote work options, but it's always good to know where work is concentrated. Having this insight can help you plan for your long-term career success.

6. Increased process efficiency with apps

A growing number of apps are streamlining processes ranging from data analytics and pipeline analysis to risk assessment and multi-location study management. These apps can be customized to a clinical trial, department, or other variable, which results in improved efficiency—and as a result, reduced costs. In addition, a large number of life sciences companies are using tailor-made applications to improve their HR processes. Consequently, there's an increased demand for IT professionals with a background in life sciences to design, implement, and manage all of these apps.

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