The idea of being at the forefront of the latest developments in the medical field, or the possibility of discovering a new treatment for an illness—if this excites you, then you may want to consider a career in clinical research. Clinical research is a branch in medicine that delves into the safety and effectiveness of new treatments. The global clinical research market has seen massive growth in recent years, with more and more job opportunities opening up. No matter what type of job you’re looking for in this field, clinical research offers many opportunities for career development and travel. Let’s look at some career opportunities in clinical research.

What Does Clinical Research Entail?

Clinical research aims to find effective and safe medications, medical devices and diagnostic techniques in treating an illness. By performing stringent clinical trials, researchers assess patients’ responses to the treatment and analyze the efficacy and benefits of a new drug.

Clinical trials are divided into different stages, also called phases, which increase in size and scope as the research advances to a different phase.

A phase-I trial intending to test the side effects of a new drug may only involve a dozen people. While phase IV of the trial may involve thousands of participants to evaluate if the new drug is more effective than existing treatments. All clinical trials need to meet international ethical, scientific and practical standards. Therefore, clinical research specialists need to ensure that Good Clinical Practice (GCP) is followed when conducting a trial. 

Other areas that come under clinical research include epidemiology, physiology and pathophysiology, health services, education, and mental health.

The Clinical Research Research Career Path

To start with, a graduate or postgraduate degree in a relevant field is recommended, which includes fields such as biochemistry, pharmacology, nursing, epidemiology, physiology, chemistry, and pre-medical subjects.

Although it is possible to work in clinical research without the relevant qualifications, such as for administrative roles, it doesn’t guarantee employment in a research lab. During your studies, try to gain as much research experience in a laboratory or clinical trial setting as possible. Clinical research internships are sure to add great value to your resume.

Career Opportunities In Clinical Research

Clinical Research Associate

Freshers join the clinical research field as Clinical Research Associates (CRAs). The options include working as a Clinical Data Coordinator or Clinical Trials Assistant. CRAs typically work in all phases of clinical trials and are often employed by research organizations to work on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. CRAs can progress to become CRA II or Senior CRAs.

Clinical Trial Manager

Clinical Trials Managers handle the administrative aspects of clinical trials. Their job description includes: being responsible for ensuring documentation is kept private and confidential; attending meetings and coordinating investigator meetings; being responsible for clinical trial supplies; reviewing trial protocols and identifying issues, and processing and tracking payments.

Drug Safety Officer

Drug Safety Officers work to ensure that new and existing drugs available on the market are safe to use on humans. Their job description includes: monitoring the effectiveness of new drugs already on the market; highlighting early warning signs of adverse effects of the drugs; conducting interviews with patients and healthcare professionals; and conducting safety audits.

Clinical Investigators

Clinical Investigators ensure that research expectations are met and that the clinical trial is carried out as per all necessary regulations. Their responsibilities include meeting specific standards set by regulatory and ethical bodies; supervising research to ensure protocols are being followed; notifying relevant regulatory bodies of changes in research activity, including any unexpected obstacles; obtaining consent from all participating patients; maintaining records of the clinical studies, and preparing reports to send to investigation sponsors and other relevant bodies.

Career Outlook

A career in clinical research provides competitive salaries and opportunities to travel all over the world. If you’re interested in discovering new and effective treatments for illnesses and ensuring that they are safe and effective, this is a great career option to choose. Working in clinical research can be challenging and simultaneously exciting, as the industry is constantly evolving. What makes it even more commendable is the moral fulfillment that comes with helping others.