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Former Synteract CEO Unveils Non-Profit Contract Research Organization, PHACT, to Help Eliminate Neglected Diseases in Developing Countries

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Ellen Morgan, former co-founder, president and CEO of Synteract, has launched a non-profit contract research organization (CRO), Public Health Alliance for Clinical Trials (PHACT).  Morgan is joined by two co-founding partners, Christian Sacher of Germany, and Yaw Asare-Aboagye, a native of Ghana. PHACT, founded in May 2011 by Morgan, is conducting clinical trials for biotech and pharmaceutical products to treat diseases disproportionately affecting the poorest people in developing countries. The organization has capabilities in the U.S. and throughout Eastern Europe and opened an office in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November 2011, and last week in Accra, Ghana.


PHACT's focus is to build operations in areas where the need exists but CRO infrastructure is lacking. Utilizing its strong functional management in the U.S., the organization is training to build local know-how in clinical trials, which helps local economies in these countries. Initially the organization will also collaborate with local CROs in other developing countries as appropriate; future plans are to establish offices throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and other parts of Asia. The goal is to support non-profit product development partners (PDPs) and pharmaceutical companies with trials in diseases such as malaria, cholera, dengue fever, tuberculosis, parasitic diseases as well as women's health issues.

"I spent 30 years working on clinical trials for many important new treatments but often wished there was more we could do to help the people with the greatest need," says Morgan. "While new medical technologies have helped add almost a decade to Americans' lives over the past 40 years, as many as seventeen million people – most of them children – die each year from such infectious diseases as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections. Our mission is to help these children live longer, healthier lives. PHACT is offering a full range of high quality clinical operations services at considerably less expense than is typical thus allowing clinical trial programs to be completed sooner and at a lower cost."

Like Morgan, both Sacher and Asare-Aboagye have strong backgrounds in the healthcare industry. Christian Sacher is founder and CEO of the CRO Verum with headquarters in Munich, Germany and offices in Eastern Europe and Asia. He has pioneered clinical trials in Romania (founded the first ethics committee at the University of Bucharest in 1996), Ukraine (first registered CRO in 1997) and Pakistan (first CRO in 2007).

Yaw Asare-Aboagye has more than 20 years of clinical trial experience in the U.S., having worked for both large and smaller pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, overseeing clinical research and data management functions. A native of Ghana, Asare-Aboagye holds a DVM degree and a Master of Science in biostatistics. He has been an advocate for clinical trials in developing countries for decades and is a regular speaker on the conduct of clinical trials in Africa at the African Partners Medical conference held in Ghana annually.

Dr. Chris Hentschel, director of PHACT and founding former CEO and board member of Medicines for Malaria Venture (Geneva) and of the MRC Collaborative Center (London), says, "Having been involved in neglected disease research for more than a decade, I have often felt the need for a CRO that espoused the beliefs and values we see in this new initiative. PHACT is truly unique at this point and will help move the field to the next level."

Bonnie Shaw

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