The Download: David Coman, CEO, Science 37

David Coman is the chief executive officer of Morrisville-based Science 37, which makes it easier for people to participate in clinical research by connecting patients with doctors and nurses through telemedicine visits and home health screenings, then managing trial logistics from an integrated, comprehensive technology platform.

David came to Science 37 from ERT, where he led its data and analytics business after serving as the company’s chief strategy officer. As the leader of ERT’s data and analytics business, David reimagined the way the pharmaceutical industry looks at performance and risk management for clinical trials while more than doubling the company’s bookings from analytics over a two-year period. In his strategy role, David spearheaded the acquisition of four companies in a 12-month period, generating more than $1 billion in enterprise value, while repositioning ERT as the market leader in clinical trial data generation.

David joined ERT from Quintiles (now IQVIA), where as chief marketing officer and founder of its Digital Patient business, he helped lead the company’s growth from $2.7 billion in revenue in 2007 to $4.3 billion in 2015. It was here that David pioneered some of the industry’s first decentralized clinical trials while also driving significant growth and enterprise value.

  1. What is in your pockets?

Just my iPhone. That’s it. I don’t like to be bogged down with anything.

  1. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?

The clinical research industry has executed the same way for the last 60 to 90 years. It starts with the drug company clinical trial sponsors identifying a network of clinics—or what we call “sites”—to enroll patients into the clinical trials. Each of these individual sites have their own people, processes, and technology in order to be able to manage the patient relationships. They’re all operating independently, and the sponsors utilize a network of clinical research associates that they fly around the world in order to make sure that each of those individual sites are recruiting patients and they’re compliant on the procedures and following the protocol. The problem with the model is that only about three percent of providers today are actually investigators at one of these clinical research sites.

The Science 37 model turns that model upside down. We go directly to patients in order to be able to matriculate them into clinical research. We manage those patients through our operating system which consists of patient communities, telemedicine investigators, mobile nurses, remote coordinators, and connected devices, which enable us to manage the patient from the comfort of their own home. All of these specialized networks sit on top of a technology platform that manages the workflow of that clinical trial and it enables all of the participants to enter data, generating the data for the clinical trial, and then ultimately harmonize that data for regulatory submission or publication.

Essentially what we’re doing is centralizing all the people, processes, and technologies toward a clinical trial, although the model commonly is known as decentralized clinical research. It’s a bit of a misnomer. The reason why it was named decentralized clinical research originally was because we were decentralizing outside of clinical trial sites. But the reality is what we’re really doing is we’re centralizing all these things on one technology platform.

We are excited about two things recently. The first is we have enhanced the technology platform—managing the workflow between a telemedicine investigator, mobile nurse and patient coordinator so that we can effectively have all three of those parties working together with the patient from the comfort of his or her own living room, participating in the clinical trial with all the data being entered into each individual system all the same time. And then on the back end of the platform, we developed it so that it’s SaaS-based. Not only are we utilizing that technology, but we’re also enabling others to use that technology for clinical trials that we may not be executing ourselves. Ultimately, our vision here is to be the operating system on which all clinical trials are managed.

The other recent announcement that we’re excited about is we introduced a virtual site to rescue studies. Eighty percent of all clinical trials today are delayed. That’s about 16,000 clinical trials. Mostly they’re delayed because of the ability to recruit patients into clinical trials. The Science 37 Metasite Rescue solution enables us to go find patients where they are. Doesn’t matter if you’re living in a remote area of Nebraska; we can offer clinical research to you and we can get you up and running wherever you are. The platform, we have a lightweight build to it so that we can actually get it up and running in four weeks. If you think about a clinical trial, it’s on average $20 million per month lost if you’re delayed. We can get you up and running in no time, relatively speaking, and we can matriculate those patients in and get your study back on track.

  1. What is your favorite coffee spot?

I don’t drink coffee. My favorite local hangout place is the NC State University Club.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

What keeps me up at night is to make sure that we continue to operationalize trials as effectively each time one after another in perpetuity.

  1. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?

Brewery Bhavana in downtown Raleigh. It has a great combination of amazing beer and eclectic food. You can never go wrong there.

  1. What is next for you or your organization?

Ultimately the mission of Science 37 is to accelerate clinical research by enabling universal access to patients and to providers anywhere. We keep that as our North Star and use it to ensure that everything that we do delivers against that objective—ultimately to become the operating system on which every clinical trial is built.

About Brooks Malone 89 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.