Dr Marc Rivière, président du conseil d'administration de CATALIS

CATALIS has great plans for the coming year.

A message from the chairman of the CATALIS board of directors, Dr. Marc Rivière

There is no doubt that this past year has been disconcerting and most unusual. Clinical research was confronted with substantial challenges that highlighted our system’s ability to adapt quickly and find innovative solutions. This exceptional situation caused us to reflect on the importance of clinical research and ways to accelerate discovery. It also gave us the chance to review the CATALIS initiative’s accomplishments over the past few years and consider the opportunities that lie ahead.

Since its inception in 2017, CATALIS’ goal has been to bring all Quebec’s clinical research stakeholders to the same table to discuss the best ways to improve our processes and accelerate the discovery of innovative treatments that benefit patients. Over the past few years, representatives from the industry and the five university hospital centres met with government decision-makers on more than fifty occasions to propose unanimous and concrete solutions. I am proud of the catalyzing role CATALIS has played in overseeing these discussions.

I would like to acknowledge the close collaboration of all CATALIS’ partners, including the Ministry of Economy and Innovation (MEI) and the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MHSS), in identifying strategies to simplify and optimize the clinical trial authorization process, while still maintaining each institution’s independence and rigorous standards. The commitment shown by research centre directors, research ethics boards, and contract managers has allowed for in-depth deliberations that led to creative ideas from those directly involved in authorizing and managing research projects on a daily basis.

I am pleased to announce that the MEI, with help from the MHSS and the participation of the Fonds de recherche du Québec—Santé (FRQS), has reiterated its support for CATALIS and renewed our funding, which will allow us to carry out our mission. The government’s assistance and collaboration are essential to the development of new programs that aim to generate positive benefits for clinical research in Quebec and, ultimately, allow a larger number of patients to have access to clinical trials.

CATALIS has big plans for the coming year. We are looking forward to launching a pilot project for accelerated clinical trial launches: its goal is for research projects to obtain authorization in less than eight weeks. This project, which we are developing with our partners, aims to optimize the authorization process for certain clinical trials, notably by using standardized documents and assigning additional resources for this purpose. The system is currently being designed by both our public and private partners. It will allow research projects being financed by pharmaceutical companies to be thoroughly evaluated without vying for priority with those receiving financing from academia. The pilot phase of this project is slated for summer/fall of 2021: the process’ objective is to attract more pharmaceutical company-financed clinical trials to Quebec and make innovative drugs more accessible to patients.

Another of CATALIS’ priorities is to expand its programs into more of the health and social services network’s institutions and, as such, extend the reach of its projects. A clinical research performance monitoring system will also be implemented to support the continuous improvement of processes within Quebec’s network.

The coming months and years will undoubtedly be exciting for CATALIS and its partners, and I am looking forward to seeing the evolution of upcoming projects. I am confident that the work done by CATALIS and its partners will help develop innovative medicines that will change many patients’ lives.