Annette Bennett had a lofty mission when she assumed the role of CEO at Clinical Research Partners RVA a decade ago. “My biggest goal was to be the largest clinical research center in Virginia, and we definitely achieved that goal,” Bennett said.
Working in partnership with Dr. Robert Call, president and medical director, Bennett grew the business from a facility that researched and tested the efficacy of allergy medications to one that tests medications for nearly every medical condition.
Dr. Call speaks fondly of his initial job interview with Bennett, which ended up much differently than either thought it would. “She didn’t really fit in as ‘an employee,’” he recalls. “She walked out the door and I thought, ‘She’d be a good partner.’ I ran out, caught her in the parking lot and right then we decided to form Clinical Research Partners. She was all for it. We’ve skyrocketed since then.”
When COVID-19 hit, Clinical Research Partners RVA pivoted to treatment and prevention. They enrolled 1,800 patients in vaccine trials, which they say makes their body of subjects the largest in the world. The clinic also offers treatment options for those who test positive for the virus.
Because of COVID-19, “we have had to pivot outside of our traditional research,” Bennett said. “We’re working on helping bring treatments to market, not just preventing them with a vaccine. We’re also working on treatments, which is huge because this is going to be around.”
The COVID-19 treatments offered by the clinic are done through Infusion Solutions, a company Bennett also helms. She worked with Dr. Call to quickly build a COVID-19 treatment facility on-site at Clinical Research Partners RVA.
Following her passion
The genesis of Infusion Solutions and its mission is personal for Bennett. In helping her late brother seek treatment for colon cancer, she saw first-hand that the standard infusion experience lacked comfort for patients. She set out to change that by creating private, luxury infusion suites for patients.
“I went around with him to infusion centers from Richmond to Mexico to Colorado, and the infusion center experience wasn’t good,” she said. “It was about 50 patients in a room with shower curtains between them. With the infusion center, I wanted to offer a luxury experience for patients — and we do it in a cost-effective way. They save 53% because the treatments aren’t at a hospital.”
Bennett also works to help Richmond youth through Rise RVA, a nonprofit she founded, which helps middle school students engage in their community, excel in their education and exceed their expectations through the culture of rock climbing.
“With all three companies I’m helping to serve my community, and I want to continue to do so,” she said.