Spotlight On Renzo DiCarlo, CEO: Leading a clinical trial services company with Character and Resilience
In his 10 years with BioPharma Services, Inc. CEO and board member Renzo DiCarlo has led the clinical trial services company to grow into a thriving contract clinical research organization (CRO) conducting clinical studies across all medical disciplines, specializing in Phase 1 clinical trials, bioequivalence and bioavailability studies and human abuse liability potential studies.
Under DiCarlo’s leadership, BioPharma Services has grown fourfold and expanded to two sites — one in Toronto, Canada and the other in St. Louis, USA, with a total of 300 clinical facility beds in addition to a world-class bioanalytical lab.
This evolution was not without growing pains, recalls DiCarlo. Specifically, BioPharma’s initial position as a newcomer to a space occupied with much larger, more established CRO’s, presented challenges. However, surviving and thriving through the growing pains has helped the company attract “entrepreneurial people at all levels,” DiCarlo notes, cementing BioPharma’s proverbial seat at the global CRO table.
That survival mentality is rooted in resilience, one of the characteristics for which DiCarlo credits BioPharma’s success. That resilience was evident when the clinical trial services company was one of few CRO’s that remained fully operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. To evaluate that kind of fluid environment and maintain positive results throughout points to BioPharma’s — and DiCarlo’s — entrepreneurial spirit.
As DiCarlo muses, “We’re flexible, we’re nimble, and we’re resilient. We may be smaller than some of our competitors, but it takes us significantly less time to set up, mobilize and complete a project. That’s why we have approximately 200 pharmaceutical clients around the world that repeatedly seek our clinical trial services. We fight for what we want, and now it’s helping us grow and evolve.”
Making a Difference, Personally and Professionally
A background in mechanical engineering with a specialty in pharmaceutical engineering is what ultimately drew the London School of Economics alumnus to BioPharma Services. Prior to joining the team, he held executive positions and headed up R&D in the life sciences sector. In these roles, he inspired international teams to innovate and deliver first-in-world NDA-approved therapeutic drugs and medical devices. His background also made him uniquely qualified for the CEO position.
“My experience as a pharmaceutical engineer knowing about medicine, chemistry, biology and in business made me a good fit to be their CEO,” he says. “It allowed the team to focus on being principal investigators for clinical trials.”
Today, DiCarlo knows his work with the company is making a difference in the lives of others. DiCarlo points to this extraordinary team of entrepreneurial, resilient and dedicated staff at BioPharma Services — they’re willing to revolutionize, he says, and they do it with urgency and a constant desire to evolve.
“Our team really wanted to be a part of this leading-edge research on brain function because we know we might be able to use what we learn to apply to other mental diseases or illnesses,” explains DiCarlo. “BioPharma invokes a culture of empathy, and I’m thankful that, along with our clinicians and other staff members, we’re making a difference. We look for meaning wherever we can and are always looking for opportunities to create linkages.
DiCarlo’s desire to make a difference in the world intersects both his personal and professional lives. His daughter, Rachel, has autism, and their experience has motivated him to raise awareness for the disorder. He has run in multiple race events in support of the clinical research organization Autism Speaks, including the New York City Marathon, the Tacoma Iron Man and others, raising a total of more than $75,000 and dedicating each race to Rachel.
“The important thing about Rachel is that she’s happy and always has a big smile on her face,” notes DiCarlo. “She can’t run in those races, but I can run them for her to increase awareness about autism. For me, it’s been meaningful that my work can match up with some of my personal life, versus it being totally disconnected.”
Characteristics of the Company’s Success
DiCarlo credits many of BioPharma’s strengths to the scientific experts it employs. Dr. Dessouki, one of the founders, is an anticoagulant world expert. Salvatore Colucci is a biostatistician bioanalysis leader, and Dr. Szeto specializes in human abuse liability, to name a few. Many in the pharma industry can only aspire to work with this caliber of scientific professionals.
After about five years at the helm of BioPharma, DiCarlo was looking to add some scientific rigor to the lab team. He brought on Dr. Nicola Hughes to lead the bioanalytical services lab, who came as a packaged deal with 10 total staff, including a strong study director and R&D staff. They helped round out what BioPharma now refers to as its “super team.”
The company’s team of experts and other clinical research professionals are one of the facets that helped BioPharma land a five-year, $20 million contract with the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), a division of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Through the contract, BioPharma is conducting in vivo studies of generic drug products in human subjects at its St. Louis site. These studies enable CDER to proactively address scientific questions in developing generic approval standards and ensure post-market safety and efficacy of approved generic drug products.
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BioPharma Services, Inc., a Think Research Corporation and clinical trial services company, is a full-service Contract Clinical Research Organization (CRO) based in Toronto, Canada, specializing in Phase 1 clinical trials I/IIa and Bioequivalence clinical trials for international pharmaceutical companies worldwide. BioPharma has clinical facilities both in the USA and Canada with access to healthy volunteers and special populations.