Australia’s Gold Coast a Tropical Paradise and an Active Clinical Trials Hub

Australia’s Gold Coast a Tropical Paradise and an Active Clinical Trials Hub

By some estimates, the biomedical clinical research and development market total over $100 billion worldwide and those regions that evolve and nurture a dynamic research sector generate substantial economic activity. Regions with major biomedical-focused academic medical centers, supportive progressive governments and dynamic private sector all things being equal fare well. Regions, including states within the United States and in Australia compete for the research and development, including clinical trials. Australia is no exception where a growing competition between Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria intensifies, especially in the COVID-19 era where biomedical research takes on an intensified imperative. Most recently, the Griffith University Clinical Trials Unit showcased the attractiveness of Australia’s Gold Coast for clinical trials. Already, by 2019, according to a local study, the Gold Coast was identified as the largest regional clinical trial location in the nation, with 126 trials in the City of Gold Coast alone. Of course, other regional hubs in Australia include Sydney and Melbourne.

Study Points to Gold Coast Growth in Clinical Trials

The recent Griffith University news showcases a 2019 study commissioned by the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, Regional Development Australia (RDA) Gold Coast, City of Gold Coast and the Queensland Government Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation. The findings, among other things, was that Gold Coast was Australia’s largest regional clinical trial location, with 126 trials contributing $12 million annually to the local city economy.

 The authors anticipate great growth ahead at the end of 2019. Of course, COVID-19 has since gripped the world in pandemic but Griffith University claims that the local clinical trials sector has continued to grow despite the pandemic conditions as this region apparently has lower risk status than perhaps others according to the recent news. Consequently the university touted that a Gold Coast site was the first worldwide trial site organization to recruit patients for a multi-national rheumatology trial as well the screening of the first patient for another multinational trial.  

Professor Evelin Tiralongo suggests that growth looks quite upbeat for clinical research projected to hit $33 million by 2029. Professor Tiralongo noted, “Providing high-quality clinical trial services to global and national sponsors, as well as supporting researcher-led trials, is core business for us, and being able to operate in a COVID-safe way, in an environment with so far low levels of coronavirus in the community in Australia, Queensland, and the Gold Coast in particular, is an advantage.”

TrialSite Review

TrialSite performed a brief review of the number of clinical trials listed in the worldwide clinical trials database sponsored by the U.S. Government called ClinicalTrials.gov. TrialSite has reviewed competing claims that in Australia either Melbourne or Sydney represent the largest “life sciences” cluster, central for hosting clinical trials. What is the distribution of clinical trials across Australia?

Industry-Sponsored Trials by Region: Australia

RegionPhase 1Phase 2Phase 3Phase 4Total
Melbourne264368662281,322
Sydney215348659311,253
Brisbane/Gold Coast10420348518810
Perth10717638510678

Based on the total number of clinical trials disclosed in the U.S. government database, Melbourne represents the largest hub of clinical trials activity narrowly beating out Sydney. But how about based on population? What region has the most studies per person?

RegionMetro PopIndustry-TrialsTrials/Per Capita
Melbourne4.96m1,3223,751
Sydney4.92m1,2533,926
Brisbane/Gold Coast2.4m8102,923
Perth2.1m6783,097

Measured in total number of clinical trials Melbourne should be considered at this point the most active life science cluster although Sydney isn’t far behind. In terms of concentrated numbers of clinical trials the Brisbane/Gold Coast region has per capita more clinical trials ongoing.

Note that this data may not be complete as these represent industry trials disclosed in the prominent U.S. government database. Moreover, since COVID-19 and depending on the therapeutic area, a number of trials were put on hold or even canceled. Regardless, this survey is meant to offer a snapshot of activity.

Call to Action: Interested in learning more about working in the Gold Coast? Look into Griffith University’s Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) where focus areas include rheumatology, neurology, endocrinology, renal disease, gastrointestinal disorders and infectious diseases. The academic medical center seeks expansion into dermatology and oncology. A key contact there is Gabby Menolotto, Clinical Research Nurse at 07 56780368.