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Building Partnerships.
Building Momentum.

Positioning Ontario as the ideal
place for global clinical trials

Clinical trials are vital to advancing human health and our innovation economy. They evaluate the safety and effectiveness of treatments and lead to the development of new therapies and medicines. They enhance knowledge and understanding of healthcare interventions and generate evidence to support quality healthcare practice. And they create good jobs, generate business investment and attract top researchers and clinicians to local communities and economies.

Since our founding in 2012, we have worked with our partners within Ontario’s thriving health and life sciences sectors to make our province a preferred destination for global clinical trials. As we enter the exciting next phase of our mandate, we are driven by the opportunities before us to continue to build partnerships, and build momentum, toward an even brighter future for clinical trials and the health and economic benefits they bring to Ontarians.

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Message from the Board Chair and President and CEO

It’s been a milestone year at Clinical Trials Ontario.

CTO was founded with a mandate to help make Ontario a preferred destination for global clinical trials. Over the past four years, we have worked with our growing and committed clinical trials community to develop and implement solutions to accomplish the goals we established in the first phase of our mandate and improve the climate for clinical trials in the province.

Having accomplished the first phase of our mandate, this past year was about building momentum for the future.

With the support of our stakeholders, we developed and launched a Streamlined Research Ethics Review System which reduces administrative burden and shortens the time associated with ethics reviews for multi-centre clinical trials while maintaining the highest ethical standards. We introduced our Research Ethics Board (REB) Qualification Program and launched our CTO Stream web-based application to help investigators and study teams manage multi-centre ethics reviews through the use of a common and resource-rich online system. And we created opportunities that promoted Ontario’s clinical trials advantages to national and international audiences.

Having accomplished the first phase of our mandate, this past year was about building momentum for the future. We advanced the spread and adoption of our research ethics program and initiated important foundational work around improving public and patient engagement. We also developed new and stronger connections that profiled the exceptional clinical research assets and capabilities that make our province one of the leading health innovation jurisdictions in the world.

Thanks to the ongoing support of the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, which has renewed our mandate through to 2021, we are now looking forward to the exciting next phase for CTO. Over the next five years, we will work with our partners to identify and support new opportunities that will make conducting clinical trials more timely and cost effective. We will build public awareness about the benefits and value of clinical trials and promote greater patient engagement with clinical research. And we will invest in the promotion of Ontario’s exceptional clinical trials assets, capabilities and capacity in compelling and meaningful ways that further drive interest in bringing clinical trials to the province.

Emboldened by our growing community of partners and inspired by the patients and the people who help bring clinical trials and research innovations to our communities, we are more excited than ever to contribute to building a healthier and more prosperous Ontario.

Respectfully
  • Arthur Slutsky, Chair, Board of Directors

Our Vision

To make Ontario a preferred location for global clinical trials while maintaining the highest ethical standards.

Our Mission

To strengthen, promote and capitalize on Ontario’s competitive advantages to conduct high-quality clinical trials.
2015-16 Board of Directors
  • Anne Ellis
  • Arthur Slutsky, Chair
  • Clive Ward-Able
  • James Wilson
  • Mark Lundie
  • Michael Owen
  • Raphael Hofstein
  • Raphael Saginur
  • Tina Ceroni
2015-16 CTO Team
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Phase One Successes and Highlights

  • Developed and launched the CTO Streamlined Research Ethics Review System, along with additional tools, resources and templates. Sixty-seven organizations and sites have now signed participation agreements with CTO.
  • Implemented the CTO REB Qualification Program, with 14 REBs in Ontario now qualified to act as centralized REBs of Record for multi-centre studies.
  • Launched CTO Stream, a customized web-based research ethics review management system that supports multi-centre clinical trials throughout the province. Approximately 50 investigator and industry led studies are now using the system, with more added each month.
  • Advanced patient and public engagement programming and gleaned important insights from the public and health charities toward the development of a formal engagement strategy.
  • Established national and international credibility and visibility for CTO and raised the profile of Ontario's clinical trials advantages with two increasingly popular conferences, prominent presence at annual BIO International Conventions, meeting presentations and effective communication strategies.
  • Achieved strong industry recognition and engagement in support of our mandate and established CTO as a new and vital centre of knowledge about the clinical trials sector in Ontario.
  • Created new partnerships with organizations provincially, nationally and internationally.

Focus 2016-2021

Our Exciting Next Phase

Over the next five years, Clinical Trials Ontario will continue to advance its mandate to position Ontario as the ideal place for high-quality global clinical trials. Our priorities are to:

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    STREAMLINE

    Streamline processes to support the timely, efficient and cost-effective conduct of high-quality clinical trials.
    • Goal 1

      Advancing the Streamlined Research Ethics Review System

    • Goal 2

      Streamlining Clinical Trial Agreements review and other processes

    • Goal 3

      Supporting research sites for improved performance

    • Goal 4

      Developing program tools and supports

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    ENGAGE

    Support and promote public and patient engagement with clinical trials.
    • Goal 5

      Encouraging active involvement of the public

    • Goal 6

      Increasing public awareness of clinical trials

    • Goal 7

      Supporting healthcare providers

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    PROMOTE

    Promote Ontario’s competitive advantages and clinical trial capacities to attract more industry investment.
    • Goal 8

      Industry recognition of the advantages of conducting clinical trials in Ontario and in Canada

    • Goal 9

      Awareness of the exceptional and world-leading clinical research conducted in Ontario

    • Goal 10

      Engagement with the broader research community in advancing and promoting initiatives that improve the clinical trials climate in Ontario

Strategy Update

Streamlining processes to support the efficient and effective conduct of high-quality clinical trials

Making research ethics reviews and other administrative processes for multi-centre clinical trials more efficient helps reduce the time and cost to initiate and complete studies. This in turn helps move knowledge and discoveries forward and bring innovative therapies and better care options to patients and our healthcare system faster.

The first phase of our mandate was focused on the establishment of a made-in-Ontario solution to streamline research ethics reviews for multi-centre trials. This work culminated in the launch of our Streamlined Research Ethics Review System in early 2015. This past year, there has been exceptional progress in advancing the growth of the system and demonstrating its value to research teams and sponsors.

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Partnerships Matter

Accelerating the spread and impact of streamlined solutions

Since the launch of our Streamlined Research Ethics Review System in 2015, 67 academic health science centres, community hospitals and research institutes from across the province – from Thunder Bay to Windsor, and Hamilton to Ottawa – have now signed agreements to join the system, with more partners added every month. Some have even chosen to make using the streamlined system mandatory for new multi-centre studies, a testament to the growing value that the streamlined ethics review program is bringing to those conducting clinical research in the province.

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Ensuring High Standards

Enabling a streamlined system with the support of our research ethics community

The planning, launch and subsequent growth of our Streamlined Research Ethics Review System would not have been possible without the leadership and support of a highly engaged research ethics community. Crucial to the system’s success was the launch of our program to establish CTO Qualified REBs that would serve as the REBs of Record for any multi-site study conducted using our system. There are now 14 CTO Qualified REBs in the province. Thanks to the commitment of the REBs that have successfully completed Qualification, the guidance of our REB Council and the expertise and dedication of our College of Reviewers, the Qualification program ensures a high standard of research ethics reviews that investigators, sponsors, institutions and patients can trust.

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Early Impact

Reducing ethics review approval times for multi-centre studies

The Streamlined Research Ethics Review System supports any single CTO Qualified REB in providing ethics review and oversight for multiple research sites participating in the same clinical trial. Instead of each research site submitting a full research ethics review application to their local REB for approval – a process that can take several months to complete – a site can now join an approved study in just days with less administrative effort. To date, 98% of sites have received ethics approval to join an existing provincially approved study within one month, with nearly half approved in as little as a week, using this system.

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Streaming Success

Studies added to CTO Stream growing monthly

Launched in the fall of 2015, CTO Stream is a web-based platform for coordinating research ethics reviews for multi-centre clinical studies. It enables research ethics review, document management and centralized communication between multiple institutions and REBs through a common and easy-to-use interface. Approximately 50 investigator-led and industry-sponsored studies are now using CTO Stream and we expect this number to grow substantially as more and more research teams discover the vast benefits the system offers.

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Building Momentum

OCREB set to adopt CTO Stream
for multi-centre cancer studies

Given the growing number of advantages the CTO Stream system brings to research teams, institutions and sponsors, this past year we’ve worked closely with the Ontario Cancer Research Ethics Board (OCREB) – a long-standing partner and the first CTO Qualified REB in the province – on an exciting project that will transition the approximately 300 continuing cancer studies in OCREB’s O2 platform (and new multi-centre cancer studies) to CTO Stream starting in early 2017. OCREB’s adoption of CTO Stream will mean that research teams will benefit from the use of a single web-based interface to obtain research ethics reviews for multi-site clinical studies throughout the province.

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Looking Ahead

In the pursuit of our renewed mandate, over the next five years we will:
  1. Improve and expand the Streamlined Research Ethics Review System
  2. Develop a streamlined clinical trial agreement and other processes
  1. Support research sites for improved performance
  2. Develop additional program tools and supports
LEARN MORE

Strategy Update

Patient Engagement
and Public Awareness

Patient engagement in health research has never been more important as investigators, sponsors and the broader research community begin to innovate how patients not only participate in clinical trials but how they can help shape the overall design and approach to clinical research.

Our efforts in the first phase of our mandate helped identify the scope of the opportunities before us to support greater public awareness and patient engagement with clinical trials. We have gained key insights into the diverse perspectives of patients, the public, health charities and healthcare professionals which we are using to develop a formal engagement framework.

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Benchmarking Perceptions

Ipsos poll results shapes our understanding of public opinion about clinical trials

As we began the early foundational work required to develop a formal public and patient engagement strategy, we recognized that we needed to better understand current attitudes and opinions about clinical trials. In the summer of 2015 CTO and the British Columbia Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (BCCRIN) partnered with Ipsos to conduct a public opinion poll involving approximately 1,700 respondents from both provinces to learn how people feel and think about clinical trials, their value to society and the benefit to individual patients. The survey results revealed key insights into not just opinions and perceptions but also where patients will turn for information about clinical trials and participation opportunities.

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Engaging Advocates

Health charities workshop provides vital insights into patient engagement strategies that work

Health organizations play an important role in supporting patients and families by providing practical information on a broad range of topics including clinical research. Last year CTO partnered with the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) to host a day-long workshop with local health charities and patient advocates to gain their input into the challenges and opportunities in patient engagement with clinical trials. The workshop revealed the important role health professionals can play in sharing information about clinical trials and the tremendous opportunities to work with health organizations in collaborative programming.

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Patient Integration

CTO welcomes first patient representative to the Board

We recognize that one of the most important ways we can help advance our work in engaging patients and the public with clinical trials is to integrate the patient perspective into our organization. This past year CTO welcomed its first patient representative to the Board, Tina Ceroni. Ms. Ceroni is the founder of Share A Cell, an organization which aims to raise awareness and funds for stem cell and rare disease research. Ms. Ceroni has already begun to bring her insights and enthusiasm to this important governance role and has helped promote the value of patient engagement by sharing her own lived experiences as a patient and research participant.

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Looking Ahead

In the pursuit of our renewed mandate, over the next five years we will:
  1. Seek opportunities to actively involve patients and the public with clinical trials
  2. Increase public awareness of clinical trials
  1. Support health care providers in advancing patient engagement with clinical trials
LEARN MORE

Strategy Update

Promoting Ontario as a preferred destination for global clinical trials

Ontario boasts a thriving clinical research sector and is home to world-leading academic health sciences centres, research institutes, community hospitals, independent clinical research providers and bright research minds. There are more clinical trials conducted in Ontario than any other province in Canada, and we have the assets, capabilities and business environment to attract even more clinical trials – and the benefits they bring – to our health system and the economy.

Throughout the first phase of our mandate we established important stakeholder relationships and invested in early work to position Ontario as a preferred clinical trial destination. This past year we continued to promote "The Ontario Advantage" by highlighting the significant clinical trials and research assets and capabilities within the province and celebrated the organizations, and the people, who bring high-quality research to life.

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Building Connections

Telling the Ontario clinical trials story to national and international audiences

Through our ongoing collaboration with regional, national and international partners, CTO has continued to highlight the clinical trials assets and capabilities in Ontario to a broad and diverse business and research audience. Our participation in the annual BIO International Convention has provided a tremendous opportunity for us to join our provincial and federal partners in showcasing Ontario as an ideal place for clinical trials investment. Through announcements and education sessions we have bolstered our presence, and Ontario’s profile, at these international conventions and we are planning to do so again in 2017.

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Shaping Discourse

CTO Conference brings together big-picture thinking and on-the-ground insights to advance clinical trials

Since 2014, CTO has hosted an increasingly popular conference that brings together our clinical trials community to collectively consider new and emerging issues impacting clinical trials and ultimately their contribution to our health and economic wellbeing. Our most recent conference, hosted in 2015, attracted nearly 400 speakers and delegates from Canada, the US and Europe to address some of the current and emerging topics related to the conduct of clinical trials, from big data to patient engagement. Building on the success of our first two conferences, plans are now in place to host our next CTO Conference on March 8 and 9, 2017.

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Showcasing Excellence

Bringing attention to Ontario’s tremendous clinical research capabilities and the people behind them

Ontario is home to exceptional research infrastructure and talent that has helped establish the province as one of the leading health science and innovation centres in the world. We recognized that by spreading the word about the places and people that help bring quality health research to life we would strengthen Ontario's position as the ideal place for clinical trials. Over the past year our Ontario Showcase story series has focused on profiling the work of our world-leading academic and health sciences institutions and the various clinical research assets that make Ontario ideal for clinical trials. As well our Community Spotlight series has drawn attention to the exceptional people who help make clinical trials happen in the province. Both series will continue to play an important role in our ongoing promotion activities.

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Looking Ahead

In the pursuit of our renewed mandate, over the next five years we will:
  1. Build industry recognition of the advantages of conducting clinical trials in Ontario and Canada
  2. Build recognition and support for CTO’s vision and mandate
  1. Explain and promote the benefits of CTO initiatives to improve the clinical trials climate
LEARN MORE

A special thank you to
our team, friends and partners

The growth and success that we’ve had over the past year, and the completion of the first phase of our mandate, is wholly due to the support and dedication of our clinical trials community, our sector partners and the committed and passionate CTO team. Thank you to all of you for what we have achieved together so far and for helping us build toward an exciting next phase for CTO.

We would also like to express our gratitude and thanks to all of our local, regional, national and international partners and collaborators for their support and contributions as we work together to advance clinical trials and related research in Ontario and beyond.

Local, Provincial, National and International

Partners and Collaborations

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