Focus on Switzerland as location for clinical trials
14th November 2022 — Offering clinical researchers in Switzerland the best possible framework conditions is the goal of the Swiss Clinical Trial Organisation (SCTO). The SCTO was founded in 2009 and has been funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SBFI) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) since 2017. Funding with Swiss federal contributions is linked to the requirement to carry out an external evaluation – DLR Projektträger successfully applied for and carried out this assignment. The results of the evaluation aim to contribute to improving the support services for clinical researchers and thus to a general further development and strengthening of Switzerland as research location.
Asking the right questions – DLR Projektträger helps with interdisciplinary know-how
The evaluation was jointly developed and conducted by staff from the Health Division and DLR Projektträger's Analysis and Evaluation Competence Centre. The Clinical Research and Digital Health Department headed by Dr Rainer Girgenrath in the Health Division contributed its considerable expertise in the field of clinical research; the team from the Competence Centre in particular developed the methodological approach and was responsible for data collection and analysis.
„As an independent, non-profit research infrastructure, the SCTO is committed to high-quality, patient-oriented clinical research in Switzerland. As the project executing agency, we were happy to take on the task of evaluating the services offered by the SCTO for clinical researchers. The positive result and the corresponding recommendations for action can make a constructive contribution to the further development of academic clinical research in Switzerland," says project coordinator Dr Eva Müller-Fries, Scientific Officer in the Clinical Research and Digital Medicine Department of DLR Projektträger's Health Division.
Local centres of excellence (CTUs) and national platforms working together
The evaluation examined the CTU network and the platforms under the SCTO umbrella. CTUs (Clinical Trial Units) are centres of excellence that provide comprehensive expertise for all phases of clinical trials at their respective institutions, usually universities or hospitals. There are currently seven CTUs in the Swiss network and one associate member. In addition, since 2017, each CTU has coordinated an SCTO platform focusing on a core area of clinical research such as data management, quality assurance or education and training. The platforms develop tools and practical solutions for the daily work in academic clinical research and also serve as a first point of contact for other professionals and authorities.
Comprehensive results thanks to a mix of methods
In consultation with the client, the evaluation team examined three core questions, which focused on the importance of the CTU network for clinical researchers in conducting clinical trials, the functionality of the network with regard to the challenges in clinical research, and the support provided by the SCTO platforms to clinical researchers. The reference period for the analyses was the years 2017 to 2020.
Several data sources were used to answer the evaluation questions: existing data from previous surveys, various existing documents and qualitative interviews with Swiss experts. In addition, the findings were supplemented by the expertise of the Health Division staff on infrastructures that are relevant for the planning, implementation and evaluation of clinical trials.
The final report on the evaluation was handed over to the client in October 2022 and is available on the SCTO homepage.
As the project executing organisation, we were happy to take on the task of evaluating the services offered by the SCTO for clinical researchers. The positive result and the recommendations for action derived from it can make a constructive contribution to the further development of academic clinical research in Switzerland.