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SUNY Upstate, Empire State College begin new degree program for clinical research associates

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-SUNY Upstate Medical University is collaborating with SUNY Empire State College's FORUM Management Education Program to offer a new bachelor's degree program for clinical research associates (CRA) through the FORUM Management Education Program. The degree program begins Feb. 27; orientation will be held Feb. 17.

Clinical research associates are specialized research professionals who work under the direction of a clinical investigator to manage research clinical trials, handling the bulk of the trial's daily activities. The CRA plays a key role in study conduct and compliance.

The idea to build the college degree program began with a group of SUNY Upstate coordinators, under the direction of SUNY Upstate's Clinical Trials Office and Chris Beglinger, a research administrator for SUNY Upstate's Department of Medicine. "We determined the level of interest, the need and the coursework," said Beglinger. "We then presented the idea to SUNY Empire State College. FORUM Director Thom DeLara has been instrumental in moving the plan forward."

There is no standardized, formal CRA degree-level education program available to entry-level coordinators or those interested in this career. "To provide this program to essentially anyone living in the Northeast and having SUNY Upstate in the midst of development and advising is exciting. The benefits will be far-reaching," Beglinger said.

"We receive frequent calls from people wanting to get into coordination," he said. "Through this program we hope to meet many needs and to work with additional partners, such as our pharmaceutical and biotech companies in support of scholarships as well as private and public research sites for internships as well as job placement."

The degree program is designed for individuals who hold an associate's degree and who would like to pursue a position in clinical research and for individuals who are already serving as a coordinator, but who would like to earn a bachelor's degree. For more information, call Gary Boyer at Empire State College, FORUM, 315-472-5770.