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Lifetree expands its branches
March 2009
by David Hutton  |  Email the author
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SALT LAKE CITY—In an effort to expand its services to the broader arena of central nervous system-related disorders, Lifetree Clinical Research is primed to debut its Lifetree Center for Neuroscience Research. Lifetree also has added a psychiatrist and neurologist to its staff.

According to Lifetree Clinical Research CEO Alice Jackson, the neuroscience center will focus on anxiety disorders, depression and major depressive disorders, bipolar, ADHD and Alzheimer's disease.

The neuroscience center will be located in Salt Lake City, Utah, alongside Lifetree's existing facilities, where Lifetree supports the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology industries through site services, clinical trials management including drug development, regulatory support, medical monitoring, data management, statistical analysis, medical writing, project management, recruitment and monitoring.

Jackson points out that placing the center alongside the company's existing operation makes perfect sense because Lifetree's ongoing focus on pain falls within the larger circle of CNS research work.

"Pain and neuroscience are closely related," she says. "Because we are adding CNS to our pain focus, it will help our clients to take one molecule and we can work with them as they look at that molecule for pain or depression. Many medications used to treat pain are now used to treat depression."

Jackson also adds that Lifetree now will be covering all the bases of CNS drug development.

"By broadening our scope of services, we'll be able to conduct important research in such areas as obesity, anxiety, depression, bi-polar, migraine, Parkinson's disease, seizures, epilepsy, Alzheimer's and dementia," she says.

The company currently works with some of the pharmaceutical industry's biggest players, including AstraZeneca, Allergan and Keene Pharmaceuticals. Jackson says the neurosciences center will boost Lifetree's ability to expand its client base.

"There are many companies that we haven't worked with in the area of anxiety and depression that we will be able to attract now," she says. "This will open up a number of possibilities for us."

In addition to Jackson principals in the company include Dr. Lynn Webster, a board-certified anesthesiologist.

Jackson also says the addition of Dr. Noel C. Gardner, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Daniel Brennan Vine, a neurologist, to the Lifetree staff is another step in differentiating the company from other CROs.

"Where we are different, even without the neuroscience, is that we are a niche provider," Jackson says. "We can offer specialty services due to the thought leaders and physicians that work within the center that other CROs don't have."

Before joining Lifetree, Gardner was part of the adult psychiatry clinical staff at Intermountain Health Care/Alta View Center for Counseling. In 2004, he founded the Institute of Neuroscience Research Inc. in Salt Lake City. Gardner has a long-standing relationship with the University of Utah, and has taught the undergraduate medical curriculum, the graduate psychiatry curriculum, and the graduate medicine curriculum since 1988.

Since 1982, Vine has been an investigator in 50 industry-sponsored clinical trials. In addition to his work with Lifetree Clinical Research, he will maintain his position as a principal investigator with Utah-based Pivotal Research Centers. He has been with Pivotal Research Centers since 2004. Since 1992, he has maintained a private practice and been a staff physician at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center.

Having practicing physicians on staff gives Lifetree an edge on many other CROs, according to Jackson. She says it enables staff to talk with clients about practical applications.

"That adds the color and richness and it is a difference that sets us apart," she says. "Our doctors can talk about real-world patients. It adds that flavor for our clients that most other CROs don't have."

Ultimately, the success of the neuroscience center will be measured in its ability to boost therapeutic research causes.

"If we attract those clients working within the neuroscience field and we are able to broaden our therapeutic focus to advance Alzheimer's research along, to help our pharmaceutical drugs that are closely related to pain, anxiety and depression, we would be winning business within that new therapeutic focus that we otherwise would not have been in a position to win," says Jackson.

Salt Lake Regional Medical Center
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Code: E030928

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