Puerto Rico Science Trust Presents Clinical Investigation Consortium
SAN JUAN -As an initiative intended for greater access to improved medical diagnosis and treatments, the the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (PRSTRT) has developed the Puerto Rico Consortium for Clinical Investigation (PRCCI).
The PSTRT is a private nonprofit created in 2004 to promote the commercialization of technology and the creation of jobs in the sector. It is also responsible for Puerto Rico’s public policy for science, technology, research and development. Its mission is that by 2022, the island becomes a globally recognized innovation hub.
Its new nonprofit consortium will enhance the development of clinical investigation conducted on the island by connecting researchers with patients from a variety of backgrounds. Puerto Rico has a large, diverse patient population who are currently underrepresented in clinical trials.
“With this effort, we want to change the vision of health care so that it is centered on patients and so that we have the ability to predict and prevent diseases, rather than simply diagnose and treat them. This is an important achievement for PRSTRT, which is aligned with our mission to invest, facilitate and build capacity to continually advance Puerto Rico’s economy and its citizens’ well-being through innovation-driven enterprises, science and technology and its industrial base,” said Lucy Crespo, chief executive of the PRSTRT.
INSPIRA Clinical Research, PR Renal Health and Research, GCM Medical Group, Grupo Dermatológico de Carolina, and Fundación de Investigación are part of the first wave of research sites joining the consortium.
According to the PRCC, its therapeutic areas of expertise include oncology, infectious disease, dermatology, musculoskeletal, gastroenterology, pulmonary, neurology, endocrinology and cardiology.
Its board is composed of Dr. Kenneth S. Ramos, professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona and member of the National Academy of Medicine; Dr. Lester Ramírez López, retired general, U.S. Army and U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command; Gil Medina, vice president of CBRE and PRSTRT trustee; and expected to join soon is Dr. M. Larissa Avilés-Santa, officer of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at NIH.
The consortium’s executive director, Dr. Kosmas Kretsos helped develop treatments for immunological disorders in Europe at UCB Pharma, where he had a R&D role including leading design and execution of clinical trials in Europe and the U.S. Kretsos was also part of Entelos Inc., a Silicon Valley company, testing drug candidates for big pharma clients via use of virtual patients and simulated clinical trials. He also served as a strategy consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in London. He earned a chemical engineering degree from the University of Thessaloniki, Greece, a doctoral degree in chemical and biological engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and an MBA from Imperial College at London.
“The clinical investigations are a crucial aspect of advancing research on preventing, diagnosing, or treating diseases. The people who participate in clinical trials are our heroes, volunteering for the benefit of all of us. We need to support our heroes by enhancing quality and speed of clinical trials and at the same time allow them access to new treatment options. Clinical research also has well established societal and economic benefits as it reduces the Puerto Rico brain drain by employing highly skilled physicians, nurses, and scientists who would otherwise pursue careers abroad,” Kretsos said in the statement.
Dr. José F. Rodríguez Orengo is a senior adviser to the PRCCI at the PRSTRT. He is professor and graduate coordinator at the Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine-Medical, University of Puerto Rico. He has been involved in clinical research since 1993, studying pharmacological aspects of HIV medications in the pediatric population and was appointed executive director at the Puerto Rico Institute of Forensic Sciences in 2006. He obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A&M University and a post-doctoral position from Cornell University in 1989 and 1991.
About the consortium’s research site members:
- Fundación de Investigación de Diego (FDI) is a research site with a database of healthy volunteers and the capability to conduct clinical trials at all stages of drug development.
- GCM Medical Group’s research capabilities are in rheumatology (adults and pediatric), dermatology, neurology, nephrology and endocrinology clinical trials.
- Grupo Dermatológico de Carolina specializes in dermatological patient care.
- INSPIRA Clinical Research is a mental and behavioral health services company that has partnered with pharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials for psychotropic medications.
- The PR Renal Health Research Division is focused on attracting a larger number of research protocols in areas of clinical epidemiology, drug testing, process assessment, cost-effectiveness analysis and the economics of health.