Real World Impact of Research Ethics: An Interview with Owen Garrick

At the beginning of the year, PRIM&R welcomed four new members to its Board of Directors, including Owen Garrick, MD, MBA.

Dr. Garrick is the president and chief operating officer of Bridge Clinical Research, where he has overall responsibility for the Clinical Trials, Health Services Research and Healthcare Communications business units. In addition to profit and loss responsibility for the business units, Dr. Garrick has oversight of all financial, administrative, and legal aspects of the company, and serves on the Board of Directors as corporate secretary. He has led Bridge Clinical’s expansion into multiple therapeutic areas, launched the public relations arm and represents Bridge Clinical at the US Food & Drug Administration.

Dr. Garrick earned his MD from Yale School of Medicine and his MBA from Wharton School of Business. He holds an AB in Psychology from Princeton University. See his complete bio on our website.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Garrick about his experiences in the field as well as his involvement with PRIM&R.

How does your career path differ from what you thought it would be? Or does it?

In the broadest sense, my career path is always what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid and my goal was to take care of patients. I did not have much of a perspective on research as a four year old, so in that respect my career path is very different. So, the urge to “take care of patients,”—which was the driving force for my passion for medicine—did not become the clinical practice that I thought about but could not directly articulate as a child; instead, that passion for medicine developed into a career where I help to identify new therapies and approaches that improve care for patients rather than directly taking care of them.

What external factor is most responsible for that divergence, if there is one?

It was probably the same factor that occurred multiple times. I went to an undergraduate institution (Princeton) that had a thesis requirement for all students and thus I did research. In this case, I was conducting a psychological study evaluating the impact of role models on the educational aspirations of inner city students. My medical school was also one of the few medical schools (Yale) with a thesis requirement and thus I found myself doing research again. Here, I evaluated the impact on service offerings during economic downturns in safety-net hospitals in NYC and Los Angeles. Additionally, the summer internship that I had in medical school was with Merck’s Vaccine Division and while I was not directly doing research, I was evaluating existing research to determine which vaccine candidates Merck should in-license. In a way, I kept making educational,career, and life decisions where research was front and center.

What professional and personal skills are you most eager to share as a PRIM&R Board member?

I have been fortunate to have both extensive formal and practical training in finance and business management. I didn’t have enough school after years of medical school and undergrad so I went to business school to earn an MBA from Wharton. I hope to leverage that formal training with my years of life science and financial services industry experience to help PRIM&R grow and identify ways to meet the needs of new constituents.

What do you hope to gain from serving on PRIM&R’s Board of Directors?

First, it is an honor and somewhat awe-inspiring to be part of a group of world renowned animal research ethicists and human subjects protections professionals. What I will gain is unbelievable content expertise from such an august group. What I hope to offer is a perspective on the real world impact of many of the principals that are second nature to us as researchers but in many respects unknown to the patients and subjects for whom we work.

What advice would you give to new members of our community when they first come to realize both the scope of ethical research oversight and its nuances?

That patients and families across the globe put their trust in us and we have to work every day to maintain that trust.