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Clinical research officer

Clinical research officers (or clinical research associates) play pivotal roles in bringing new drugs that improve people’s lives to the market. With many of the world’s top drug developers working on important new drug treatments in Ireland, they are much in demand.
Clinical research officers have input into everything from data collection, trialling, production and marketing of vital new medical products, designed to enhance and prolong human life

Introduction

Research officers organise and administer clinical trials of new or current drugs to assess the benefits and risks of using them. They help to organise and monitor the different phases of clinical trials of drugs. It’s a demanding but hugely rewarding role. When a drug company produces a new medicine or changes a medicine, or produces a new product, the necessary clinical trials need researchers to design how the trial will work, who will be included and how it will be administered. They choose trial participants, setting schedules and documenting each case and follow strict protocols to meet legal and safety standards as well as ethical, regulatory and compliance standards. Research Officers must also communicate the findings to their peers.

Alternative job titles for this role

  • Clinical research associate (CRA)
  • Clinical research assistant

What the job involves

  • Write drug trial procedures
  • Identify and brief appropriate trial investigators (clinicians)
  • Set up and disband trial study centres
  • Design trial materials and supplying study centres with sufficient quantities
  • Provide clinicians with instructions on how to conduct the trials
  • Collect and authenticate data collection forms (commonly known as case report forms)
  • Monitor progress throughout the duration of the trial
  • Write reports
  • How your career can develop

    A job as a clinical research officer is a stepping-stone to many related careers. These include the role of data manager, who design and monitor the clinical trial. The product of a trial – the raw data – then becomes the property of the biostatistician, who does the analysis and interpretation and extracts the results. The clinical quality assurance auditors inspect all documents and processes to ensure that they all comply with good clinical practice (GCP) guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs). It’s all overseen by the clinical project manager.

    Why it matters

    Clinical research officers have input into everything from data collection, trialling, production and marketing of vital new medical products, designed to enhance and prolong human life.

    Skills

    • Commercial awareness
    • A logical and inquisitive mind
    • Good organisational abilities
    • Excellent numerical, written and verbal communication skills
    • Confidence

    Typical employers

    • Pharmaceutical companies
    • Clinical contract agencies or houses
    • Hospital academic departments

    Typical salary

    • Graduate/Starting €45,000 to €48,000
    • Senior/Potential up to €70,000

    Typical qualifications

    An undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in nursing, life sciences (e.g. biology, microbiology, toxicology, biochemistry, or pharmacology) or medical sciences (e.g. physiology, immunology, medicine, anatomy or pharmacy). Doing a PhD may improve your promotional prospects and some employers provide opportunities to gain higher professional qualifications via block or day release.