50 years ago, we pioneered independent ethical review via the creation of the Western Institutional Review Board, the first IRB and the “W” in WCG.
Today, WCG’s solutions are built upon the foundation of ethical review, but have grown to include a suite of complementary clinical services and technologies, synthesized to accelerate growth and maximize efficiency for those who perform clinical trials.
We invite you to explore below the landmark events in the 50-year history of WCG.
Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) is founded by medical research pioneer, celebrated physician and noted philanthropist Dr. Angela J. Bowen. WIRB becomes the first organization of its kind, dedicated to protecting the rights and welfare of patients involved in clinical trials. WIRB is established three years before the National Institutes of Health (NIH) required ethics review of human research, four years before the news media brought the Tuskegee study to public awareness, and eight years before federal regulations demanded IRB review of human research.
This is the first time that an institution has relied on an independent review board, but it will not be the last: as of 2018, WIRB is the trusted IRB partner to over 2,700 institutions, including 195 academic medical centers. Proudly, the University of Rochester continues to be one of them.
The International Fellows Program was designed to address the acute shortage of high-quality, compliant research oversight in developing nations. Through this intensive training program, WIRB provides its International Fellows with a deep knowledge of regulations and guidelines, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the best practices in human subject protection.
Since its inception, the WIRB International Fellows Program has educated 150 research professionals from over 20 countries.
WIRB earned AAHRPP accreditation for meeting rigorous standards of ethics, quality, and protections for human research, and has maintained accreditation since 2003. WIRB currently administers seven individually accredited review panels. As such, WIRB is one of the world’s most respected and trustworthy research oversight bodies.
Consisting of 20 of the clinical research industry’s most well-respected and innovative service companies, WCG endeavors to increase the speed and quality with which new therapies are brought to market. WIRB and Copernicus Group IRB, with New England IRB, Midlands IRB, Aspire IRB and IRBNet, make up the IRB Division of the WCG Clinical Services Organization.
WCG Oncology is constituted of three dedicated IRB panels, which focus wholly on the ethical oversight of oncology research, a cadre of expert oncological specialists to assist in the review of complex and scientifically-challenging research, and an expert advisory board to provide the company with strategic counsel regarding this rapidly evolving field. Each year, WCG’s IRB Division reviews over 1,000 oncology protocols and oversees significant advances in gene therapy, targeted treatments, and companion diagnostics.
WIRB follows its sister organization, Copernicus Group IRB, to become the second independent IRB to achieve ISO 9001:2008 certification in recognition of its rigorous quality management standards. WIRB, like all members of WCG’s IRB Division, is recognized for its extraordinary commitment to efficiency, the hallmark of its many continuous process improvement, quality management and lean six sigma initiatives.
In addition to the six months the Fellows spend learning about clinical research oversight at the WIRB campus in Washington state, the program now includes two weeks during which participants study research ethics at the NYU Center for Bioethics in New York City.
The WCG Gene Therapy Advisory Board is assembled to advise the company on the latest advances in the complex and fast-growing field of human gene therapy research. Comprised of experts from diverse backgrounds with specialized knowledge of the commercial development, regulatory oversight, and clinical application of products involving recombinant DNA, the Advisory Board provides guidance and strategic counsel to inform the company’s oversight of human gene transfer research, which, among other considerations, involves the careful coordination of IRB and IBC reviews.
The WCG acquisition of CenterWatch is designed to benefit the clinical trials industry, facilitating increased knowledge-sharing and communication among the key stakeholders in the clinical research environment: clinical trial sponsors, contract service providers, investigators, and study volunteers.
ThreeWire is a global patient recruitment, enrollment, and retention firm that uses a systematic, patient-focused approach to help biopharmaceutical and medical device companies and clinical research organizations achieve their clinical trial enrollment and retention goals. Prior to its acquisition, ThreeWire had already patients screened more than 2 million patients in more than 25 countries, consistently producing measurable, predictable results for its clients.
The acquisition of MedAvante and ProPhase positions WCG as the leader in the growing central nervous system (CNS) and behavioral health assessment markets through the delivery of clinical services and technology solutions that improve signal detection. With these two industry leaders added into the family of companies, WCG is able to provide clients a more comprehensive and integrated suite of study start-up solutions.
The Vigilare acquisition expands WCG’s scientific review offering by adding the top provider of integrated, end-to-end pharmacovigilance and drug safety solutions for the biopharmaceutical and biotech industry.