Wednesday was a big night for Quintiles in London.

Dennis Gillings, the founder and long-time CEO of Quintiles, received a lifetime achievement award and the company was recognized as the clinical research organization of the year by U.K.-based SCRIP.

The Scrip organization awards are among the most prestigious in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Quintiles is the world’s largest provider of life science services for drug, biotech and pharmaceutical firms around the world. The privately held firm has received the CRO honor in three of the last four years. Scrip has been honoring companies and individuals for the past eight years.

“Scrip’s Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the pharmaceutical/biotech industry,” said Mike Ward, chief content officer for Scrip Intelligence and Datamonitor Healthcare. “In founding Quintiles, Dennis Gillings made an indelible impact on drug development by pioneering the Clinical Research Organization industry, revolutionizing the field to the extent that clinical trials expertise now rests with these companies. The CRO sector is still fast growing and plays a crucial role in drug development.”

Quintiles is observing its 30th year.

Gillings recently stepped down as chief executive officer of the firm but remains involved with its board as executive chairman. Tom Pike replaced Gillings as CEO.

“I am honored to receive this award,” said Gillings, who launched the company while serving as a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“It is humbling to be recognized by this prestigious panel, and I share this with Quintiles’ employees, past and present, around the world who make our company what it is today,” he added. “During these past three decades, many diseases have gone from being life threatening to manageable thanks to the work we have done with our biopharmaceutical customers.

“As we look ahead, I believe we on are on the cusp of many new discoveries which will further transform healthcare. It is my goal to ensure that Quintiles can help enable that innovation to make a difference to patients around the world.”

Quintiles has helped develop or bring to market all of the 50 top-selling products and compounds in 2011 as well as 30 leading cardiovascular and 40 oncology products or compounds.

The firm employs more than 27,000 people worldwide, including some 2,000 in North Carolina.

Its corporate headquarters are located in Durham.

[QUINTILES ARCHIVE: Check out a decade of Quintiles stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]