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Become a Clinical Research Associate (CRA)

E. Jardin & C. Schoch

A chemistry PhD, Cedric Trolliet did not plan on a CRA career and yet...

During his thesis, Cedric took courses in management and industrial property offered by the Université Claude Bernard, and found himself to be extremely interested in these sectors. When he finished his doctorate in 2003, he naturally looked into these fields. A few years later, without having a clear view of his future, thanks to a friend he discovered the job of clinical research associate (CRA) and decided to change his career orientation. In 2006, he took a course to become a certified CRA, which is required to work in this field. The classes enabled Cedric to acquire a good medical background in the main pathological fields in which clinical trials are involved, as well as the legal knowledge pertaining to the regulation aspect of trials. “The laws are constantly changing on either side of the Atlantic, so you have to keep yourself informed," he explains. At the end of his training (from which he came out top of his class for the medical aspect, he who had only elementary knowledge when he started), he did a six-month internship in the nephrology ward of a large hospital in Lyon. He became familiar with "all the subtleties of this world in order to be in a position to help medical teams from a logistic and organizational standpoint." There's no doubt that his additional training (the tuition being paid by the regional council) and his hospital experience tipped the scales when he was hired by Lyon Ingénierie.

The assets of a PhD
What about his doctorate? Although it's true that a PhD is not a prerequisite to becoming CRA and it's better to be a pharmacist, doctor or veterinarian to go in to this field, Cedric is convinced that PhDs have assets that should be advertised.

-Asset no. 1, an organizational sense and especially an ability to stand back from a situation which enables them to react rapidly in risky situations. And at the end of the chain in a clinical trial, you're taking care of patients whose vital diagnosis is sometimes at stake. There's no room for mistakes," Cedric notes.

-Asset no. 2, expertise. Each thesis specialty can be put to use in a clinical trial, for instance by being an expert in the biological action mechanism of a family of therapeutic molecules. In Cedric's case, his knowledge of chemistry is valuable to better manage issues related to a drug: galenic form, blister design, etc. and so he can make valuable suggestions to laboratories and doctors.

-Asset no. 3, the degree. "The PhD makes it easier to work with European and American teams," he's noticed.

-Asset no. 4, an open mind and capacity to summarize which enables PhDs to specialize afterwards, particularly in auditing and quality control.

No routine
His everyday work, divided between Company headquarters were recently he has been coordinating a major European study, and several hospitals in the area of Lyon where he monitors comparative therapeutic trials and studies in pharmacoepidemiology, working constantly in a team, Cedric doesn't feel the weight of routine. And if "the workload is enormous and I often work late in the evening and some weekends, this investment is offset by the feeling of participating in improving the life of patients which is very rewarding."

On the Cadres de l’Industrie Pharmaceutique association website, a job page, discussions and an “expats” section.

-Frédéric Feger, “L' attaché de recherche clinique et son rôle dans le développement clinique,” DESS Thesis, University of Rennes 1, 2002

Clinical research in the Paris public hospital network (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris AP-HP)

The electronic directory for the pharmaceutical industry in France

In the “pharmacy sector” (“secteur pharmacie”) information sheet from the APEC, you can find R&D job descriptions(including CRA), drug production and marketing. Reading the “key figures,” you will note that the “production” recruits the most management level positions.


Job offers
http://www.pharmanetwork.com/ and www.emploi.leem.org
Job sites for the pharmaceutical industry. Take a look especially at the directory of drug manufacturer R&D centers published by LEEM n 2006

This website for non-medical hospital clinical and epidemiological research personnel has a host of hospital job offers.

On the AFSSAPS (French Health Products Safety Agency) website you’ll find “scientific employment” offers in evaluation, inspection, control and lab technician jobs

http://www.flamepharma.com/clinical_research_jobs.asp  (in English)
Job offers in the pharmaceutical field in Europe.

http://clinical.aerotek.com/Jobs-Employment...  (in English)
Job offers in clinical research, mainly in the United States.