Sentara becomes a founding member of Virginia Coordinated Clinical Research Network
From the development of new medicines and cancer treatments to advances in understanding serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, clinical research is helping drive the future of medical innovation and patient care. To further support that work, a coalition of health care systems, institutions of higher education, and other organizations have united to help launch the Virginia Coordinated Clinical Research Network (VCCRN).
Sentara Health is a founding member of the VCCRN, which was established with initial investment support from the Virginia General Assembly. Its mission is to strengthen collaboration among clinical, academic, and biotechnology and life sciences organizations to accelerate clinical research and trials across the Commonwealth to address health disparities, improve outcomes, and support economic growth. The biotechnology and life sciences sector has established a strong footprint in Virginia, which is home to more than 1,400 life sciences companies. The sector contributes $8 billion to the state economy and employs more than 26,500 people. Globally, the value of the biotech market was $1.37 trillion in 2022 and it is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 13.96 percent from 2023 to 2030.
“Sentara is committed to advancing research across Virginia. Clinical research is essential to improving patient outcomes, safe and effective patient care, and to help address health inequities in our communities,” said Sentara Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Jordan Asher, MD. “Through the Sentara Health Research Center, we are proud of this statewide collaboration that will bring cutting edge therapies to our communities.”
“The Virginia Coordinated Clinical Research Network marks a transformative step for our state’s health care landscape” said Virginia Health and Human Resources Secretary John Littel. “Through collaboration with renowned institutions, we are positioned to unlock the full potential of clinical research in Virginia. I look forward to seeing the ways this initiative will make Virginia best-in-class.”
Participating organizations on the VCCRN Advisory Council include Carilion Clinic, Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University, Inova Health System, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, Sentara Health, the University of Virginia, Virginia Bio, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, Virginia Tech, and William & Mary. The VCCRN will facilitate relationships between these organizations and others across the Commonwealth to create a robust statewide network for research and clinical trials.
“Investment in collaborative research opportunities will be an economic driver to the Commonwealth, attracting additional life sciences innovation and commercialization and providing patients with access to new treatments and cures,” said Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Jason El Koubi. “We look forward to supporting the Virginia Coordinated Clinical Research Network’s groundbreaking work.”
Some of the clinical research work that’s happening in Virginia include the study of MRI-guided focused ultrasound to use sound waves on the brain to address Parkinson’s disease symptoms, the development of an artificial pancreas system to support diabetes patients, Remdesivir antiviral drug trials to support treatment for COVID-19 patients, and the study of gut microbe transplantation as a means to combat alcohol addiction.
“Virginia’s hospitals and health systems are excited to support groundbreaking clinical research to develop next generation treatments for disease and infirmity,” said Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “Strengthening collaboration between hospitals and our bioscience partners through the Virginia Coordinated Clinical Research Network is an opportunity to put Virginia at the forefront of cutting-edge medicine that improves lives and patient outcomes.”