The Clinical and Pharmacological Research Center will recruit volunteers from Morgantown and beyond to participate in the trials, which could lead to partnerships with other companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, said WVU Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher Colenda.
“This is an important investment for the economic future of our community,” he said.
The venture was created by the WVU Research Corp. and the WVU Health Sciences Center. It already has a contract with Pennsylvania-based Mylan, which has a manufacturing facility in Morgantown.
Mylan officials didn’t immediately comment Friday on what kind of drugs the center would test first or when those trials would begin. Nor was it immediately clear whether participants will be paid.
WVU estimates the center could have a $7 million impact on the local economy. The center has already created 21 full-time jobs, it says, and expects to employ up to 60 part-time staff.
Fred King, vice president for research at WVU, calls the center “a critical part of the research ecosystem” that will help attract and retain pharmaceutical and biomedical companies in the region.
Dr. Dorian Williams, interim director, said the center’s top priority will be the health and safety of volunteers, and all will be fully informed of the risks.
The center will give drug makers assurance that their products have been tested to rigorous Food and Drug Administration standards in a short time and at a reasonable cost, Williams said.
Although the center is new, WVU says pharmaceutical research has been done in Morgantown for more than three decades.
Dr. Thomas Clark set up a research unit in 1979 and conducted the first trials in 1982. His facility became a part of Kendle International Inc., which was acquired last year by INC Research LLC.
INC Research closed the Morgantown location last summer, leaving the community without such a facility for the first time in three decades.
Williams was affiliated with Kendle and INC Research from 1982-2012 and served as medical director of the Morgantown facility for 12 years. The new center is in the former Kendle building.