Dr Ric DeGaris takes a holistic approach to health and medicine. To complement his training in pharmacology and almost three decades in the biopharmaceutical industry, Ric is also a qualified personal trainer. “Health has always been a keen focus of mine. My science background and career has been about finding a treatment or cure. The personal training component supports the prevention aspect. So it actually fits well with my clinical trials career.”
Despite his busy role as the Head of Clinical Operations, he still finds the time to swim regularly. Doing laps in the pool helps him with his back, which in turn, helps him support the Operations personnel at Neuroscience Trials Australia. He says, “although business development may bring clients into an organisation, it is operations performance that ends up keeping clients and driving business growth. Thus, being a sounding board, providing guidance based on industry experience, or offering a different perspective for consideration, are all part of day-to-day activities.” With the combination of his open and collaborative style, and his wealth of experience, particularly in the consulting and contract research organisation (CRO) setting, Ric brings an extensive industry network, an energetic warmth and a passion for science.
Ric’s science journey began early. With a medically qualified father, Ric was exposed to the wonders of science at a young age and fell in love with it quickly. With this, he pursued a Bachelor of Science at Monash University. “It took until third year university when I took pharmacology as a major that things really clicked.” Such was his passion for pharmacology that after completing his Honours year, Ric went on to undertake a PhD in the field.
Since then, it’s been onwards and upwards. With a CV that is as long as it is impressive, Ric has worked at senior levels for several local and multinational organisations. In the clinical trials space, Ric has experience across a number of fields, from infectious diseases, oncology, cardiovascular to neuroscience. Reflecting on the highlights of his career thus far, Ric says, “there have been numerous over nearly three decades – from being a co-founder of a local CRO that grew and sold successfully to a large top 5 global CRO, to being managing director of that Australian organisation.”
Some may say Ric joining Neurotrials was written in the stars- he’s actually known CEO Tina Soulis and a number of team members for many years. He was always familiar with the excellent reputation of Neurotrials in the neurology therapeutic space and now, Ric is excited to part of a team that is at the cutting edge of first-in-human and early phase clinical trials.
“I have been fortunate enough to have been surrounded by a number of excellent mentors throughout my career who I have been able to learn from,” acknowledges Ric. Mentoring the next generation of industry leaders is a mission Ric holds close to his heart, as evidenced by his continuing role as a lecturer to science, medical and biotechnology students, as well as his participation on the Course Advisory Board for the Master of Biotechnology at Monash University. This aligns with Ric’s strong belief in and support of the biotech industry in Australia, having held positions in industry policy working groups and industry bodies.
So what makes Ric so passionate about the medical research and drug development ecosystem? It’s the patients themselves. “They [patients] need to be at the centre of every decision made by R&D and associated personnel in the medical device, diagnostic and therapeutic space. It is their quality of life that we are trying to improve, and we need to remember that one day we are all very likely to be patients ourselves.” It is the determination, resilience and good-will of patients that Ric finds truly inspiring.
On a personal note, Ric’s passion isn’t just confined to science, he’s also a big supporter of the Richmond Football Club and has been for over 50 years. “My brothers supported Melbourne and wanted me to also. I wanted to tread my own path.”