Date of Award
Restricted Access Professional Report
Master of Science
Field of Study
Clinical Research Management
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that approximately 555,550 people die of cancer each year in the United States. This is an average of a little more than 1,500 people per days and ranks cancer as the second leading cause of death behind heart disease. In 2007, an astonishing 1,444,920 new cancer cases are anticipated to be diagnosed. It is through scientific research and the necessary employment of clinical trials that advanced are made to fight this dreadful disease. A breakthrough or advancement made in the treatment of cancer begins with basic research of cells and tissues in the laboratory. Once a particular treatment or technique is developed, and proven to be successful in animal models, it can then be evaluated in people through clinical trials. Clinical trials follow a rigorous scientific process to answer specific questions relating to the new newly developed therapy or technique. A clinical trial is the only mechanism to determine the true effectiveness of a promising new therapeutic being investigated. Thus, any unnecessary delays in approving a clinical trial protocol increases the time before that trial can begin enrolling patients and therefore gain approval for new treatment options. The International Conference of Harmonization Good Clinical Practice (ICH GCP) guidance document defines a protocol as “a document that describes the objective(s), design, methodology, statistical considerations, and organization of a trial.” The ICH GCP further goes on to describe that the protocol gives the rationale and background for a trial. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Handbook for Good Clinical Research Practice states that “the study protocol is the core document communicating trial requirements to all parties who have responsibility to all parties who have responsibility for approval, conduct, oversight, and analysis of the research.” Thus, before any trial can begin accruing patients, its protocol, along with a study’s informed consent, must be thoroughly reviewed and approved by a network of entities to ensure that a study’s protocol outlines a trial that is safe and effective. A recent study conducted at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and at a VICC Affiliate Network (VICCAN) sites indicated that two particular processes took longer than all others involved in their clinical trial protocol approval process. These two particular processes were the Scientific Review Committee review process and the Contracts and Grants approval process. This was contrary to what the authors expected, in that, they believed the IRB review and approval process would take the longest. Many of the challenges reported by the authors of the study at the VICC parallel those encountered in the protocol approval process at UT Southwestern. A closer examination of these parameters is needed. The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center (SCCC) at UT Southwestern Medical Center is a matrix cancer center and relies upon the interactions between other institutions and departments to conduct all phases of its cancer research. Thus, the process involved in approving a clinical trial protocol also rely upon the interactions between other institutions and departments. This is where many challenges and various institutional administrative barriers arise. Therefore, it is the goal of this practicum report to formally evaluate and document the protocol approval process at the SCCC at UT Southwestern. The report will also identify unwarranted time delays in the process and provide feasible resolutions to expediting the overall clinical trial protocol approval process without compromising patient safety or research integrity. At the cessation of this report, a further analysis may be conducted using its findings to determine whether or not these time delays in the process and provide feasible resolutions to expediting the overall clinical trial protocol approval process without compromising patient safety or research integrity. At the cessation of this report, a further analysis may be conducted using its findings to determine whether or not these time delays in approving a study protocol are consistent with approval processes encountered at other institutions and academic health center settings like the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"Evaluation of the Systematic Clinical Trials Protocol Approval Process at a Matrix Cancer Center" Fort Worth, Tx: University of North Texas Health Science Center;