WIRB-Copernicus Group, a major provider of regulatory and ethical review services and software to support clinical research, (U.S. 1, March 15, 2015) has launched a nonprofit group to promote ethics in health research. The WCG says its foundation’s mission is to strengthen protections for research participants and improve health and well-being worldwide.

The company has also moved its headquarters from 202 to 212 Carnegie Center.

“As the industry leader, it is our responsibility to introduce new and transformative ideas; ones that will result in an improvement in the quality of clinical research and the enhancement of human health,” said WCG CEO Donald A. Deieso. “We established WCG Foundation because we believe in the power of the independent public charity and in its extraordinary potential to make difference in the lives of desperately ill patients, research professionals, and research participants.”

WCG Foundation will initially focus on three programs: advancing education and training in research ethics at U.S. academic institutions, providing scholarships for the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) International Fellows Program, and making IRB review more affordable for patients who are desperate to gain access to experimental treatments.

“We see an enormous opportunity — and obligation — to build an educational infrastructure that can strengthen research protections, elevate the quality of research, and ultimately increase its benefit to humankind,” said WCG Foundation executive director Marjorie Speers. “We also empathize with patients seeking one last source of hope and, therefore, will work to reduce financial barriers and help make experimental treatments more accessible.”

The former president and CEO of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs Inc., Speers served as acting executive director of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission and oversaw research protections for domestic and international research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WCG Foundation will provide grants for academic institutions to develop courses, and certificate and degree programs that professionalize IRB training. The foundation will also expand the existing WIRB International Fellows Program, providing scholarships to help enable global healthcare professionals to receive research ethics education in the U.S.

In addition, the WCG Foundation will help desperately ill patients who have exhausted all other options and are seeking access to experimental drugs and medical devices. To help reduce these patients’ financial burden, the foundation will cover the cost of IRB review for applications for single-patient expanded use.

WCG is a family of companies that includes five IRBs — WIRB, Copernicus Group Independent Review Board, Aspire Independent Review Board, Midlands Independent Review Board, and New England Independent Review Board; IRBNet, which provides research compliance software for institutions; and ePharmaSolutions, a developer of technology-enabled solutions to optimize study startup.

Deieso founded WIRB-Copernicus Group in 2012 and bought most of the major IRB companies. By 2015, WCG companies were involved in 70 percent of all clinical trials of drugs submitted for FDA approval in the U.S.

IRBs play an important role in drug research. Before researchers use federal funding to test any drug on human subjects, they must win the approval of an IRB made up of scientists, doctors, academics, and sometimes even non-scientists such as clergy members and ordinary citizens who consider the ethical dimensions of the proposed experiments. The U.S. has required IRBs since 1974, when congress acted in response to a series of scandals involving unethical research.

WIRB Copernicus Group, 212 Carnegie Center, Suite 301, Princeton 08540; 609-945-0101; fax, 609-799-2216. Donald A. Deieso, CEO. www.wcgclinical.com.

#b#Pedestrian Hit; Pizza Driver Sued#/b#

A Princeton University graduate student is suing the restaurant chain Naked Pizza, saying a distracted delivery driver hit her with his Toyota Prius in April, damaging her spinal cord.

The restaurant had a Nassau Street location that closed in November. In the lawsuit, student Nyssa Emerson says she was hit in a crosswalk south of Ivy Lane on April 8 and that the driver, Steven G. Cruz, was using a GPS system or some other electronic device and ran a red light. The suit says the chain’s 25-minute delivery rule and other policies contributed to the crash. The plaintiff’s lawyer told reporters that Emerson missed six months of school but has since returned to her studies.

The suit names as defendants the driver as well as the company, and Kathy Vik, owner of the closed franchise location, and the driver’s mother, who owned the Prius.

#b#Mergers#/b#

Chambers Street Properties (CSG), 47 Hulfish Street, Suite 210, Princeton 08542; 609-683-4900; Martin Reid, interim CFO and president. www.cbreinvestors.com.

Chambers Street Properties, a Real Estate Investment Trust based on Hulfish Street, is merging with Gramercy Property Trust to create a combined company with $5.8 billion in leasing revenue. Shareholders voted last week to approve the deal, in which Gramercy shareholders will receive 3.1 shares of Chambers Street stock. Chambers shareholders will hold 56 percent of the new REIT, which uses the Gramercy name.

Gramercy did not return calls for comment.

The companies agreed to the deal on July 1, four months after company founder Jack Cuneo retired. (See U.S. 1, March 11, 2015.)

After the merge, Gramercy holds 56 million square feet of mostly industrial and office space around the world. Gramercy CEO Gordon DuGan will lead the company.

#b#Expansions#/b#

ERA Central Realty Group, 20 Main Street, Robbinsville 08691; 609-259-0900; Ann Davis, broker/owner.

ERA Central Realty Group has opened a new branch on Main Street in Robbinsville. The new office, the company’s fifth, is across the street from the building where Ann Davis founded the company in 1986.

ERA was then known as Ann Davis & Associates and was owned and managed entirely by women. Davis also said she encouraged a cooperative environment at the office in contrast to the competitive atmosphere in most real estate offices at the time.

Davis’s daughter and business partner, Stephanie Bellanova, said having the new office in Robbinsville was like “coming home.” “It’s only natural that ERA Central has come back to its roots in Robbinsville,” she said.

The company has expanded in recent years and now has about 200 agents in five counties, with offices in Cream Ridge, Bordentown, Freehold, Monroe, and Robbinsville. In addition to real estate brokerage, ERA offers real estate instruction, continuing education and also has a marketing department and a technology team.

Davis said ERA still takes a family approach to business. “We are a family. Real estate agents are independent contractors so they may think, ‘I’m supposed to be independent,’ but in reality, real estate is interdependent. We rely on each other to achieve our successes.”

#b#Management Moves#/b#

Derma Sciences Inc. (DSCIOB), 214 Carnegie Center, Suite 300, Princeton 08540; 609-514-4744; fax, 609-514-0502. Stephen T. Wills, interim CEO. www.dermasciences.com.

Derma Sciences, a company that makes honey-based wound care products, has parted ways with CEO Edward J. Quilty in the wake of a failed clinical trial of its main candidate product.

Derma Sciences sells a line of honey-based products such as Medihoney bandages, which provide it with a stream of revenue, but was also making a heavy investment in developing a treatment for foot ulcers. (U.S. 1, February 19, 2014.) The trials of DSC127 cost Derma $55 million only to find in November that the product did not work as well as intended.

In a press release, Quilty’s departure was described as a “mutual decision,” and he will remain on the board of directors. Lead Director Stephen T. Wills has been named interim executive chairman while Derma searches for Quilty’s successor.

“On behalf of the Derma Sciences Board of Directors, I want to thank Ed for his many contributions over the years as he led the transformation of Derma Sciences into an industry leader in the advanced wound care marketplace,” Wills said in a statement. “These contributions, along with a talented and experienced team of executives and employees, have helped establish a solid foundation for Derma Sciences’ future. Our priority now is to identify a leader with the vision to build upon the Company’s strategy for sustainable growth and profitability, and take us forward into Derma Sciences’ next phase of development and growth.”

#b#Crosstown Moves#/b#

Ascensus, 4B Cedar Brook Drive, Cranbury 08512; 609-918-2500; fax, 609-918-1328. Shannon Kelly, president of retirement services. www.ascensus.com.

Ascensus has completed its move from a Millstone office to a new location on Cedar Brook Drive in Cranbury off Route 130. The office of the online finance company was formerly ExpertPlan, an independent company founded in 1999 by businessman Winthrop Cody. It was acquired by Pennsylvania-based Ascensus in 2012.

The company, which specializes in college savings and retirement accounts, said in a statement that the new office features an open floorplan to accommodate growth. It was also renovated to include meeting rooms, a dedicated training room, and accompanying technology. The building overlooks the complex’s lake and is adjacent to a walking path.

“We are excited to welcome our associates to this new, modern space and to begin a new chapter in our corporate growth story,” said Shannon Kelly, president of Ascensus retirement services.

#b#Deaths#/b#

David Orson Tolman, 72, on November 23. Tolman worked in the computer industry as a technical writer and project manager and studied history and the philosophy of science at Princeton under Thomas Kuhn.

Nicoleta “Nickie” Oliver, 65, on December 25. She was a former fifth-grade teacher at Dutch Neck Elementary in West Windsor and also owned and operated a preschool on Village Road West.

Tim Vasen, 51, on December 28. He was director of the program in theater at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.

Brooke Barrie, 59, on December 30. She was the first director and curator of Grounds for Sculpture, from 1992 to 2007, and developed the sculpture park’s programming and procedures and curated major exhibitions for internationally known sculptors Magdalena Abakanowicz, Dale Chihuly, Isaac Witkin, and others.

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