Press Releases–2012

CenterWatch analysis shows global investigative site landscape shrinking, losing veteran PIs

BOSTON, Mass., Jan. 5, 2012—A new CenterWatch analysis reveals that the global landscape of investigative sites—research centers that conduct clinical research—has continued to shrink and has become more unstable over the past five years. The most active and experienced investigative sites, who comprise the backbone of the clinical research industry in the U.S., have seen the sharpest decline.

The proportion of most active FDA-regulated principal investigators (PIs)—those who conduct at least two clinical studies each year—has declined from 29% to less than 23% during the past five years, while the average number of new studies begun by the 60 highest volume sites in the U.S. and Canada fell by 85%. The new CenterWatch study also shows that investigators based in Europe have the highest drop-out rates.

Experienced investigative sites, with substantial clinical research infrastructure and high fixed costs, are finding it difficult to stay in business. “The global economic downturn and a 40% drop in clinical trials initiated since 2008 have certainly contributed to a difficult operating environment,” said CenterWatch Editor-in-Chief Cheryl Appel Rosenfeld. “Complex protocols, flat study budgets, an onerous regulatory compliance burden and more intense competition for studies also have led some of the most active PIs to rethink their level of participation in clinical research.”

The CenterWatch analysis indicates that the global investigative site market is becoming more fragmented and nascent and suggests new challenges for clinical research program managers in government agencies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and contract research organizations.

A complete report on this analysis is published in the January 2012 issue of The CenterWatch Monthly, available online, or contact

About CenterWatch

Founded in 1994, CenterWatch is a trusted source and global destination of clinical trials information for both professionals and patients. CenterWatch provides a wide variety of information services including grant leads for investigative sites; business development leads for contract service providers; postings of career opportunities; listings of clinical trials actively seeking patients; advertising and promotional opportunities; and proprietary business analysis and data about the global clinical trials industry. Visit

Cheryl Appel Rosenfeld