Why I’m Here

Susan P. Landis

Clinical Researcher—July 2021 (Volume 35, Issue 5)


Susan P. Landis


[Editor’s Note: With the retirement of former ACRP Executive Director Jim Kremidas in May, this is Susan’s first message for Clinical Researcher since she took over the role in June.]

Last year, just as we began to deal with COVID-19 as a nation, my husband felt something in his chest. What started as a case of “Dad has COVID” ended with the discovery of a 95% blocked coronary artery and the rush into life-saving stent surgery. Blame it on genetics. At the time, there was nothing more my husband could have been doing than he already was with his diet and exercise to lower his bad cholesterol and raise his good.

Enter statins and, more recently (for him and other cardiovascular patients), a PCKS9 inhibitor that can dramatically lower bad cholesterol. To every clinical research professional who helped to bring these new therapies to market, my thanks is truly heartfelt.

A Crash Course in the Enterprise

I didn’t know much about clinical research when I joined Quintiles (now IQVIA) more than a decade ago. My background was in marketing and communications for technology, data, and telecommunications companies. At Quintiles, I partnered with executives in every area of the company—clinical operations dealing with the “bench” research and development of potential drug products and the “bedside” development of the most promising candidates through clinical trials and studies; commercial operations supporting the marketing of approved, branded drugs; consulting services exposing me to comparative effectiveness research and formularies; outcomes research demonstrating the importance of real-world evidence in determining effectiveness and formulating corporate strategy. It was a front row seat to the workings of a global contract research organization and a crash course in how the larger clinical research enterprise functions.

An Academic Perspective

When I later joined the Duke Clinical Research Institute, I experienced the complexities of large government grant-funded studies and coordinating centers, and the amazing teams needed to support the most important and interesting clinical research being done across many therapeutic areas. I was part of the work at Duke and other academic institutions to usher in new ways to conduct clinical research—involving pragmatic clinical trials, patient-reported outcomes, master protocols, and virtual trials to name just a few. The group I led supported trials directly, particularly around patient engagement, digital health, and direct-to-participant studies.

Clinical research is an enterprise based on ideas. It’s the engine for every new therapy brought to market and prescribed to those in need, and the foundation for critical protections and improvements in public health. In the United States, this may never have been as clear as it is today to a public that has lived through a pandemic. Equally, clinical research is an enterprise that cannot bring about that progress without you—the dedicated professionals who contribute your time, talents, and energies to improving health outcomes for all. We could not do it without you; thank you.

The New View

That’s why I’m here. In my career, I’ve had clients and customers. Now I serve you, the members and stakeholders of ACRP, along with the Association’s talented staff and volunteers as we collaborate to deliver timely educational programs, engaging content, and an exciting annual conference in person again next year. Importantly, I want us all to have a hand in shaping clinical research through initiatives that address diversity, equity, and inclusion, which in the end will serve to improve the conduct and outcomes of your work for the betterment of public health.

Thank you for this remarkable opportunity. Thank you for being here, too.

Susan P. Landis (susan.landis@acrpnet.org) is Executive Director of ACRP.