2019 Annual Report: Collaborations

The DCRI often partners with other academic research organizations around the world, such as the Canadian VIGOUR Centre (CVC), in their work to deliver clinical trials. The DCRI’s head of research operations, Ty Rorick, sat down to discuss the success of these collaborations with Tracy Temple, associate director of clinical trials at the CVC.

TY: The DCRI’s partnership with the CVC is longstanding and is built on trust and openness, quality delivery of work, and the relationships we’ve developed with Dr. Paul Armstrong, other CVC faculty, statisticians, and with you, Tracy. There’s been little turnover on both sides, so we’ve gotten to work side-by-side in a completely integrated partnership.

TRACY: I would echo that. Our collaboration started with Drs. Paul Armstrong and Robert Califf during the GUSTO-I trial in the 1990s. It was the beginning of a strong partnership and friendship that has continued to grow over time. These relationships have been nourished by visits to each other’s organizations and face-to-face meetings at international meetings, CME events, and trial-related activities. An important milestone was the construction of an overarching master agreement between the CVC and the DCRI, which was supported by former DCRI Director Robert Harrington. Having worked on many trials together over nearly three decades, our academic thought leadership, as well as our statistics, population health, operations, and business teams, have been well aligned. Openly sharing SOPs, databases, and other tools and templates over the years has ensured a seamless experience for the study sponsor.

TY: That’s right. We spend time helping the sponsor understand that the experience will be seamless because of our long-standing partnership. From their perspective, it looks as though the entire North America piece of their study was conducted by a single entity, and together, we bring incredible academic and operational value to their project. We also learn from each other. The depth of experience on both sides has been invaluable to this learning.

TRACY: I agree that the shared learning has been beneficial across both of our organizations. For example, you and your team were able to walk us through your experiences hosting FDA inspections, which helped us work with our sites to be better prepared for FDA, Health Canada, and sponsor inspections.

TY: One way we learn from the CVC is to watch how your faculty and operations teams work together. Our faculty values our operations staff and they work together well, but it is always interesting to see how others do it outside of the DCRI and find areas where we may be able to improve. Another strength of the CVC is site engagement. The CVC has maintained strong connections with their sites, which promotes consistency in being able to go back to the same sites and personnel for new studies. We want our sites to know both the CVC and the DCRI and to be open to ongoing collaborations and new ways of working together. Speaking of the future, I’ll segue into a question I want to ask you, Tracy. What do you envision for the future of the partnership between our two organizations?

TRACY: I expect we will continue to explore opportunities to strengthen our partnership in the years ahead. There are many new ideas emerging in research as it relates to the use of technology, alternate trial designs, and use of big data, which we are uniquely positioned to be a part of. The cross-border collaboration also offers a unique opportunity for Canadian/American comparisons related to health care and health economics. Thinking about how we can not only increase efficiency but also be innovative and creative in future projects will be important. Our collaboration has been built over many years and has been fostered by a mutual respect, established relationships, similar research interests and approaches, and producing high-quality deliverables—all of which will undoubtedly be key pillars as we continue working together.

This article originally appeared in the DCRI’s 2018-2019 Annual Report. View more articles from this publication.