Eric Garcia: Helping lead the way with COVID-19 drug trials

Eric Garcia
Primary trial coordinator Eric Garcia recruits participants for the Regeneron study

Eric Garcia has had quite the year after overcoming COVID-19 back in March of 2020. He used his experience as motivation to help others, joining the Regeneron clinical trial team through UI Health Care.

As the primary trial coordinator, Garcia has been an integral part of the recruitment of participants to the Regeneron study. Once participants agree to be in the trial, Garcia also coordinates their clinic visits, where nasal swabs and blood tests are conducted.

Without Eric, there would be no study.

— Kimberly Sprenger, RN, clinical research manager

Moving forward

Within the last year, UI Health Care teams have seen the positive impact of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cocktail therapy in patients who are COVID-19 positive with moderate symptoms and low risk factors.

The Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC) found clear clinical efficacy on reducing the rate of hospitalization and death with both the 1,200 mg and 2,400 mg doses of REGEN-COV compared to placebo.

Due to this success, the clinical trial team will move onto the next phase of their research, monitoring Regeneron’s therapy with pediatric patients with COVID-19.

The administration of casirivimab and imdevimab together creates the antibody cocktail therapy, formerly known as REGN-COV2 or REGEN-COV2. It has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults.

Volunteering extra time

Coordinating and being present at patient visits often required Garcia to work seven days a week—weekends are typically when participants have availability for their tests.

Although his work can be time-consuming, Garcia is empathetic because he understands the pain and fear associated with testing positive for COVID-19.

“I really want to help other people because I went through it,” he says. “I want to continue to find a way to help others cope with it.”

A unique skillset

Garcia’s role as a liaison to participants is crucial for the final success of the trial. He ensures that they return for their follow-up visits, that physicians conduct the right tests, and that all data is entered properly.

“Making sure patients come to their follow-up appointments is key to finding out how the drug is working, how well it’s working, and if it’s working,” Sprenger says. “It tests both the efficacy and safety.”

Garcia is bilingual, allowing him to better connect with Spanish-speaking families participating in the study. Due to his ability to translate, he’s also helped with other drug trials, like the remdesivir study, communicating with Spanish-speaking families.

Team effort

Previously, Garcia worked in the Department of Internal Medicine, with a specialty in pulmonology.

He felt compelled to join this clinical research team because of the opportunity to work with an exceptional group from UI Hospitals & Clinics.

“This trial has been a team effort,” Garcia says. “I have been very fortunate to have a great group of nurses and laboratory staff in our Clinical Research Unit to help me conduct the study. With promising results, it is exciting that University of Iowa Health Care will be part of cutting-edge science.”