The history of clinical research has been traversed in a long and fascinating journey. From the first recorded trial of legumes in biblical times to the current chase to the effective COVID-19 vaccine. Humanity has lived a long-surviving plague of diseases. Fairly what we take for granted is the procedure involved in developing the vaccine. To give a broad perspective on vaccines and the importance of the clinical trial, Benchmark Research’s team will walk us through the struggles of Research Company—the same who is working on a COVID-vaccine for us.
Clinical research has undergone significant changes over the years. The Founder and CEO of Benchmark Research, Mark Lacy has been part of the industry since 1997. Mark is a former special assistant to the secretary of transportation under President Reagan. After leaving the White House, he decided to venture into entrepreneurship in the research industry, a career dedicated to others’ well-being.
In 2004, vaccines were deemed less desirable in the research industry, yet Mark took a bold decision to pursue vaccine studies. Presently, vaccines are considered an important part of the therapeutic area in the industry. Moreover, this niche is not just saving lives but also financially lucrative for many. All these factors contributing that Mark’s bold decision was actually a successful decision. The ultimate combination of altruism and capitalism was brought to life through Benchmark. Today, the company is an industry leader in clinical research and has conducted more than 1,000 trials to study vaccines with over 40,000 participants.
Mark is keenly interested in research areas, which can be termed as uncharted land. For instance, the team has begun research involving cannabis, psychedelics to opioid withdrawal, and others. These researches are anticipated to be the next vaccine blockbusters. Mark being a veteran in the industry brings his expertise to the table, which has contributed to anticipating the major changes abreast. The team is prepared to encounter the major changes in the next decade and will continue to adapt and stay one step ahead in the field. Additionally, Benchmark is an industry leader in conducting many other types of trials over 12 therapeutic areas.
Benchmark works in partnership with the private and public sectors located in California, Louisiana, and Texas. The Founding team of Benchmark Research includes Mark Lacy, CEO, and Scott Barrett (President of Benchmark Research), who have been successful in developing the reputation of the company as an expert. The company holds expertise in vaccine research. It has 8 sites that have conducted 55 vaccine trials for 12 sponsors & 5 CROs including government-funded studies. Besides, the mentioned multi-therapeutic vaccine trials included all age groups from infants to geriatrics and Phases 1-4. Last year, Benchmark has conducted a wide variety of preventative vaccine and prophylactic antibody studies for COVID-19, Anthrax, Zika, CMV, hMPV/PIV3, RSV, Flu, C. Diff, E. Coli, Meningitis & Pneumococcal.
Apart from the expertise in vaccine research, Benchmark specializes in other areas as well, such as device, diagnostic and paediatric studies. Moreover, Benchmark launched 2 new paediatric sites and 100+ new staff that included new roles to support new ways of working. These roles are targeted at solving or managing the more complex and larger studies while not compromising the quality.
Benchmark is also part of VaxCorps—a U.S. and Canada-based integrated research organization that specializes in the conduct of vaccine trials which was founded by Mark. Alongside, it is also associated with the research network HyperCore international—also founded by Mark with a mission to improve the field and each company within the network collectively. HyperCore international network brings together the clinical research industry’s most respected and advanced research site companies, working together in harmony to advance the efficiency of clinical trials, which leads to better health and wellbeing of the society.
Benchmark has never compromised on the quality and is renowned to meet or exceed goals on 100% of studies and are often the highest enroller amongst the other companies involved. As a result, the company is capable of supporting rapid enrolment and the highest quality due to strong staff training and multiple management systems that support robust analytics, decision making, and enhance protocol and vaccine-specific training. Benchmark encompassed an internal quality department, centralized activities, virtual coordinators, and on-site quality control staff at each of the sites. Furthermore, it offers a dedicated call centre with 30 operators located both locally and internationally to support recruitment efforts and participants’ needs.
Benchmark’s efforts and contributions have been recognized around the world. Likewise, it has received several awards and accolades by receiving global recognition from ACRP, INC Research, PharmaVoice Magazine, Pharmatimes, Pfizer, and many more. Benchmark created history in 2019 when it received one of the greatest accolades in World Vaccine Congress history for becoming the largest vaccine or runner up in World Vaccine Award history.
As a global leader in the clinical research industry, Benchmark has witnessed several obstacles and challenges along its way. One common obstacle that all the research industry professionals encounter is educating people on the importance of clinical trials and enrolling a diverse group of participants in critical studies. Clinical trials decide the efficacy and safety of all medicine, without these trials, there could not have been any medication or treatment today. Moreover, the diversity in these trials helps in building an understanding of how the medication responds to people who are uniquely different from each other. Thus ensuring that the medication is responding well to everyone, not just one ethnicity or group.
Mark has always been vigilant in witnessing the fragmented part of the gaps in the industry. Consequently, with an aim to increase the awareness on racial disparities in clinical research and improve the goals of diverse representation of participants in clinical trials, Benchmark established MACRO, Minorities Advancing Clinical Research Operation. MACRO chair members include Mark as CEO, Cindy Dukes CBO, Van Johnson VP of Business Development and Global Alliances, and Madelyn Rascoe Director of Marketing. Staying aligned to its goal, MACRO is allowing people to have access to lifesaving treatments and everyday medicine that is essential to the public. Recently, Benchmark also became a proud member of the National Diversity Council to support these efforts, with the chair members serving on the national and local advisory boards.
Benchmark Research partnered with OWS, operated by the government, Benchmark was chosen by OWS to be the first research site to be visited to initiate their strategy in finding a solution to the pandemic. This partnership enabled Benchmark to play a vital role in finding a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. Throughout the research, the doctors who administer the trials as well as Mark have spoken publicly about vaccine trials to help keep the public informed at every step.
In an amazing pursuit to help fight the pandemic, Benchmark has conducted over 45+ COVID -19 studies for Phases 1, 2, and 3 and has enrolled over 5,000+ volunteers across their eight sites so far in these ongoing studies.
Mark believes that this pandemic is a pivotal event for the world and as for Benchmark, the company will be changed forever due to the events. The silver lining will be that despite being a tough time for the world, it will teach us valuable lessons and help us come together for a greater cause. Benchmark will continue on this pursuit of vaccine research and advance in areas that might have great potential. The goal will be to bring life-saving treatments to the public and do the part to make the world a better place.
While working on the perfect effective vaccine, Benchmark Research left an important message for the readers, “The greatest gift you can give is to get involved, whether that be getting vaccinated, or participating in a clinical trial. We still have a long way to go and more treatments still need to be tested, by joining a clinical trial you are directly advancing medicine and research and helping the world be protected against COVID-19.”