As part of a seminar series entitled “Trends in Clinical Research,” Lauren Wall, Director of Clinical Research Operations in Hematology/Oncology at University of Chicago Medicine, lead a classroom of clinical research professionals on February 28 in a discussion surrounding personalized medicine. Focusing both on the general implications of this emerging approach to medical care, as well as the values, benefits, and challenges posed to its ensemble of stakeholders, Ms. Wall guided the class through a lively and thought-provoking discussion outlining the direction in which medical care and clinical trials will head in the upcoming years.
In a workshop setting at once engaging and interactive, Ms. Wall structured her presentation around a series of questions, first answered by groups and then discussed more fully and expanded upon by everyone present. With an audience approaching the topic from across the clinical trial domain, with nurses, clinical researchers, representatives from pharma and staffing specialists present at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center, the discussion was able to address the many perspectives to this topic which is changing the structure and design of clinical trials.
“With the current focus on personalized medicine,” Ms. Wall said, “the rules and regulations surrounding clinical trials are changing rapidly. It’s a particularly good topic to address with people whose backgrounds are in clinical trial work and who are grappling with these issues on a daily basis, because that’s where a lot of the effects of these changes are being seen. While you see a lot of marketing already happening around personalized medicine these days, it’s not until results start emerging at the clinical trial level that real proof will arrive.”
In contrast to the approach that dominated much of 20th century medicine, which focused on patients in general and yielded treatments of equivalent generality, personalized medicine seeks treatments nimble and targeted enough to address the specific requirements posed by a patients’ genomic, historical, and environmental profile. In a regulatory environment where pharmaceutical companies depend on amply populated, stringently regulated, and successful clinical trials to bring new therapies to market, the increasingly pinpointed populations sought by personalized medicine place new pressures and challenges on the clinical research domain as it seeks to re-shape the clinical trial with these new aims in mind.
With over ten years of experience in Hematology/Oncology clinical research, Ms. Wall’s primary responsibilities at the University of Chicago include planning, directing, and overseeing daily clinical research operations for over 300 clinical trials in the hematology/oncology section. Prior to taking her role in the academic setting, Ms. Wall worked at an Oncology CRO where she gained experience in clinical trial monitoring and project management. Starting in 2016, she brought her strong passion for teaching and mentoring others about the field of clinical research to the Graham School, where she teaches in the Clinical Trials Management Certificate program and seeks to share and speak with others about the exciting career opportunities in clinical research.
“Personalized medicine offers many potential benefits to all key stakeholders,” Ms. Wall said, “including better care to patients and healthy individuals to reducing healthcare costs in the long run. Although this paradigm shift has created many new challenges in the clinical trial setting, it has created a lot of new and exciting opportunities as well.”