Software From Morrisville’s d-wise Helps Speed Clinical Trials To Save Lives

The d-wise team at a recent company outing. Front row, third from left, is CEO John Leveille. Fifth from left is CTO Chris Olinger.

Seventeen years ago, d-wise was just two brothers-in-law writing code in a basement. Their mantra then: “Code for food.”

Now the Morrisville-based d-wise has more than 85 employees worldwide fulfilling the founders’ mission to build software that accelerates clinical trials and make them more transparent, ultimately saving lives. The startup has worked with over 150 unique clients and was also recently named as a 2020 addition to Scot Wingo’s Tweener List.

Founders John Leveille (CEO) and Chris Olinger (CTO)—Chris has been married to John’s sister since 1989—both worked in software development for SAS in the 1990s. They each joined a SAS spinoff that was ultimately rolled back into SAS, which was a disappointment for those working on the spinoff. They then both decided they wanted to take their technical knowledge to help people, and in 2003, d-wise was born.

The company’s two primary products—Accel and Blur—focus on distinct aspects of improving clinical trials: acceleration and transparency.

Leveille said there’s a common phrase in the pharmaceutical industry: every day from the last patient taking their last visit to the doctor in the clinical trial to the day that drug is approved is a million dollars a day of patent life for the pharma company.

“So when that last data point is collected by IQVIA or LabCorp until you get the drug approved, the pressure is on,” Leveille said. “And we have to accelerate that part of those businesses to help speed those drugs to market.”

Around 90% of d-wise’s revenue comes from aiding that race, especially with Accel. With dozens to hundreds of clinical studies going on and hundreds to thousands of workers running complex math and statistics, clinical trial companies need help from d-wise’s computing and data integration systems and analytic tools. 

Meanwhile, d-wise’s Blur helps anonymize data and the clinical study report for external researchers.

The d-wise team wants to have an even greater impact on the business of clinical trials and life sciences development, continuing to accelerate drug development and the rate of innovation with their clients, Leveille said.

“We believe that with the advance of medicine and its growing complexity and the advance of technology and its growing complexity—that together this space is something that requires a lot of effort and ingenuity to navigate and to find new sources of value and improvement,” Leveille said. “So we’re about changing the way that clinical trials analysis is performed in the hopes that we can find new ways to speed life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to people all over the world.”

Knowing how it feels to have a family member sick with cancer, the d-wise founders believe their work in analyzing clinical-trial data trickles through the pipeline and ends up helping save lives. 

In addition to their software products and systems, d-wise also earns revenue by consulting for clients, which fits right into the company ethos.

“One thing about being a consultant is you have to love helping people,” Olinger said. “Consulting and delivering value essentially has to be the core of what you’re doing.”

In early March as Covid-19 hit the United States in full force, d-wise held a risk-planning session, speculating that the virus could either slow business down or speed it up. So far they’ve seen increased need from clients, though given that d-wise was already a highly virtual company, day-to-day work hasn’t changed much except a little extra time to spend with family.

“What we’ve actually seen is that our business has sped up a little bit because the types of projects that we do with our clients are more strategic-enablement initiatives,” Leveille said. “So we think that there’s some awareness that inside of life sciences development with our clients, their priorities have changed and shifted, but they kind of need us now more than ever.”

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About Suzanne Blake 94 Articles
Suzanne profiles startups and innovation for GrepBeat. She is also a junior studying journalism and political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Reach Suzanne at suzanne@grepbeat.com.