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Drexel Joins Regional Health Systems to Expand Access to Clinical Trials

April 16, 2018


Drexel University administrators, including Provost M. Brian Blake, join representatives from five other regional health systems during a press conference to announce the formation of the PIER Consortium™.

Six health systems have founded a nonprofit clinical research consortium to streamline and expand access to clinical trials in the region. Called Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research (PIER Consortium™), the clinical trial system will span New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The founding members of PIER Consortium™ are Atlantic Health System, Drexel University, Einstein Healthcare Network, Geisinger including AtlantiCare, Main Line Health and Thomas Jefferson University.

Clinical trials have traditionally been offered at academic medical centers and through affiliated hospitals to ensure patients are treated safely and effectively with the best standard of care. Unfortunately for patients, this can mean traveling many miles, sometimes across the country, for novel treatment. The PIER Consortium™ will bring clinical trial sites to larger numbers of patients, while also bringing new treatments to market faster.

Steve Klasko, MD, president and chief executive officer of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health initiated the idea for the system, in order to focus on bringing the best healthcare to a patient “where they are,” said David Whellan, MD, chief operating officer of PIER Consortium™ and executive director of the Jefferson Clinical Research Institute at Thomas Jefferson University.

The goal of having a broad network of physician-researchers is to speed up the clinical trial process and deliver effective therapies to patients sooner.

“Our vision is to advance patient care in the moment and improve quality of life and outcomes in the future,” Whellan said. “It can take decades to prove a drug is safe and effective for a particular disease, which means some patients die waiting for new therapies.”

An estimated 80 percent of clinical trials fail to finish on time. Having contracts in place and physicians identified could allow trials to both start and reach participation capacity more quickly. The expertise shared across sites through PIER will allow clinical researchers to enroll patients in trials more quickly and streamline the clinical trial process across institutions. This will create a more effective process for patients, trial sponsors and researchers.

“At Drexel, we are excited by the prospect of collaborating with other health-care leaders to expand our reach in helping patients, while at the same time bolstering the region’s renown as a major center for the life sciences,” said Drexel President John Fry.