A Global Medical Research Company is Expanding in Columbus, Georgia

A Global Medical Research Company is Expanding in Columbus, Georgia Main Photo

16 Jul 2019

STEAM, Healthcare

Columbus, Georgia is a STEAM Community where cutting-edge healthcare research is being conducted by IACT Health (IACT) – a company conducting clinical research trials for national and international organizations. IACT has conducted hundreds of clinical trials from their Columbus facility and currently employs more than 40 people, in addition to another 50 independent contractors. Additionally, IACT Health has offices in numerous other cities and states all managed from Columbus, Georgia. They are also founders of hyperCORE International, the second largest research site network in the world with more than 80 sites across 5 countries on 2 continents. 

While IACT is now a global organization, their start was in Columbus, Georgia. Dr. Jeff Kingsley, CEO of IACT, served as the Director of Family Medicine and the Director of Urgent Care for Columbus Regional, where he first developed a passion for discovering medical breakthroughs and helping underserved communities. As a hobby, he opened a healthcare clinic to provide free medical care, while also conducting research. Within the first year, that hobby surpassed $1 million in revenue and $2 million the following year. “The community was incredibly supportive, and the company became huge overnight,” said Kingsley. That was 14 years ago.

As a clinical research company, IACT has benefited from the support and diversity found within Columbus. “In the research field there is a struggle to obtain diversity within clinical trials. It is unethical for us to do research on one demographic and generalize it to everyone, or to assume that a drug will work the same in white men as it does black females, for example.  This makes access to a diverse group of participants absolutely critical when trying to generalize findings to the overall population. We have that diversity in Columbus. While other researchers may struggle to achieve their diversity goals, we never do,” said Kingsley. This advantage is one of the reasons IACT has garnered international attention and large contracts funded by organizations like the National Institute of Health.  

The scientific and medical community in Columbus has also contributed to their success. Of the 450 physicians in the city, 88 are actively participating in research being conducted by IACT or referring patients to their clinical trials. This collaborative environment is ideal for any company in the healthcare or research industries. 

When asked about his goals for IACT, Kingsley commented on his desire to continue improving the research process. “It takes around 15 years to get a drug to market. It shouldn’t take that long. We estimate being able to cut that timeframe in half by starting trials faster and providing the highest quality data. For example, the average time to start a trial is 26 weeks. Our average is 90 days. We focus on time because if we can open the trial faster, the sooner we get data and can get FDA approval for life-altering drugs.  By reducing the cost of R&D, we are making it more affordable to bring drugs to market and cheaper for the U.S. population to purchase the medication they need,” he said. As a result of IACT’s research, there are over 60 medications on the market today, many of them benefitting from these cost saving measures.

With such a widespread impact and diverse customer base, IACT Health could have located anywhere. Their participation in the hyperCORE Super Network with offices from Peru to Canada has only furthered their ability to do so.  IACT has chosen to remain in Columbus, Georgia because, as a STEAM Community, Columbus has everything IACT needs to be successful – a supportive healthcare ecosystem that includes Piedmont Columbus Regional, St. Francis Hospital and the John B. Amos Cancer Center, residents excited about participating in clinical trials and the workforce talent that is necessary for growth. “The university system in Columbus has been able to help with workforce and workforce development. We never struggle to find qualified people we can train internally. They have the right characteristics, get up to speed quickly and consistently produce the quality of work required by the industry,” said Kingsley.

            Other research, science and healthcare companies looking for the perfect combination of top talent and a supportive community should consider Columbus, Georgia. Some already have.  In fact, Mercer Medical School is coming to Columbus. They are a strong education and research institution who will be training the next generation of medical professionals and facilitating medical research throughout the region. Mercer Medical School will be joining a long line of the STEAM success stories in Columbus.

We encourage you to learn more about Columbus, Georgia by emailing Brian Sillitto, Executive Vice President of Economic Development, at bsillitto@columbusgachamber.com.