WCG looks to galvanize northeast clients with New England IRB acquisition

By Zachary Brennan contact

- Last updated on GMT

WCG looks to galvanize northeast with New England IRB acquisition

Related tags: Clinical research, Medicine

WIRB-Copernicus Group (WCG), a provider of regulatory and ethical review services for clinical research, announced today it has acquired New England Independent Review Board (IRB). 

The Boston-based New England IRB expands WCG’s presence in the northeastern biopharma clinical research hub and further increases its expertise in all phases of drug, medical device and behavioral research.  

Nicholas Slack, SVP of strategic partnerships at WCG, told us: “We’re constantly looking for ways to better serve clients [which include sponsors and CROs] and this offered us the opportunity to do this in the Boston biotech hub. When you look at their location and reputation – those two things were what drove us to this acquisition​.” 

Founded in 1988, New England IRB was one of the first national IRBs dedicated to ensuring the rights and welfare of research study participants. New England IRB joins Western IRB, Copernicus Group IRB, Midlands IRB, Aspire IRB, and IRBNet as a member of the WCG family of companies. WCG now has 14 individual IRB panels, all accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP), which reviews clinical research. 

New England IRB will continue to operate independently and will retain its leadership, personnel, and brand. WCG will provide New England IRB with access to technologies, capital and corporate support. 

New England IRB President Jim Saunders told us, “From our perspective, this will bring some significant resources to us and specifically we are looking at training capability… making sure staff and board members are understanding the regulatory landscape is a big challenge​.” 

WCG’s portal for communications between New England IRB and clients was also a key factor in agreeing to the acquisition. 

Saunders added: “In terms of IT resources – we have a substantial level of IT within our organization but moving forward our technology will have to evolve to meet clients’ expectations – specifically what I mean is our clients want a robust portal to serve as a way for clients and staff to communicate and track project milestones…while our portal is good, we’ll benefit from the availability of the capabilities of WCG portal.​” 

He noted that the company really only has four or five IRB competitors nationwide and this IT capability will make them more competitive. “One of the major ways that sponsors and CROs decide which IRBs to us, is the robustness of the portal that they offer the study manager -- one of the advantages is to offer an even better portal​,” Saunders said. 

This acquisition may also not be the end of WCG’s push to add more assets. “We’re always on the lookout for other orgs that can add value to our client base​,” which includes sponsors, CROs, academic medical centers and hospitals, Slack said.

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