Careers and Employability Service

I want to work in Clinical Research

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 Life sciences or medical sciences degrees can be put to good use in the competitive but growing field of clinical drug research
A clinical research associate (CRA) runs clinical trials to test drugs for their effectiveness, risks and benefits to ensure that they are safe to allow on to the market. You'll work on new and existing drugs and will usually be employed by either a pharmaceutical company or a contract research organisation (CRO), which works on behalf of pharmaceutical companies.

The Clinical Research Associate coordinates clinical trails of new drugs. Once these trials are successful, the Regulatory Affairs Officer takes the trial data and uses this to gain government approval for the new medicine. Both jobs are well paid and interesting.


CRAs work for pharmaceutical companies and Contract Research Organisations which plan, organise and conduct Clinical Trials on behalf of pharmaceutical companies.
CRA's are also called Clinical Trials Administrators (CTAs), Clinical Research Scientists, Clinical Secretaries, Clinical Trials Assistants, Clinical Trials Associates, Data Monitors and Clinical Research Monitors!

In the past few years the percentage of clinical trials carried out in the UK has dropped as companies have increasingly carried out trials in Asia and Eastern Europe where it is cheaper. The cost of doing trials in the UK is one of the highest in Europe, but firms have in the past preferred to carry out trials in the UK because of our strong research base. The huge patient base of the NHS (over 50 million patient records) is also a powerful resource.
Bureaucracy in trial approvals has created longer start up times than in other European countries. This is important as the patent on a drug only runs for a limited number of years and once it expires, anyone can copy the drug. It is especially important for smaller companies to get trails up and running quickly to maintain cash flow from investors. A large trial may involve obtaining contracts with many different primary care trusts each one requiring its own set of paperwork. A UK Clinical Research Network has now been set up to speed up approval of trials and this seems to be working.



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Last Updated: 09/09/2019