A Spring of Hope from Our Winter of Despair

Clinical Researcher—December 2020 (Volume 34, Issue 10)


Jim Kremidas


Charles Dickens clearly wasn’t anticipating the year 2020 when he began writing his epic 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities with the sentiment, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” By most measures, this year has been far heavier on the latter, beginning with a global pandemic and ending with a very fractious presidential campaign. And while the clinical trial industry has made exciting strides with COVID-19 vaccines in recent months, it’s clear we’re going to be struggling with this pandemic well into 2021 by even the most optimistic projections.

However, those who quote the first part of Dickens’ most famous opening sentence often don’t quote the rest of it. I think it’s quite an apt description of 2020. Dickens goes on to write, “it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

We’ve seen all of that and more in what I’d charitably call a memorable 2020. In my final message for this year’s run of Clinical Researcher, I’d like to focus on one shining positive: the conduct and contributions of you, the clinical trial professionals of the world. Through this unpredictable, frustrating, “let’s never do that again” kind of year, the clinical trial workforce has risen to the challenge and brought a renewed sense of hope to people everywhere.

Clinical trial professionals exhibited an amazing ability to pivot in early 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread. Leveraging the best of new technologies, embracing concepts such as decentralized trials and real-world evidence, all of you, working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies, made incredible and life-saving adjustments in the way trials are conducted.

Your inspiring hard work is already paying dividends. The clinical trial industry responded to this health crisis with true “warp speed” while maintaining important safety checks and working hard to ensure data integrity and trial efficacy. You, the clinical trial professionals of 2020 and 2021, turned some of the worst of times into some of the best of times in terms of human compassion, ingenuity, and tangible success.

On behalf of the entire ACRP team, it’s an honor to help support the invaluable work each of you do. I wish you a safe and relaxing holiday season and look forward to seeing the amazing things you will accomplish in 2021.

Jim Kremidas (jkremidas@acrpnet.org) is Executive Director of ACRP.