Digital Experts

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PharmaVOICE Staff

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Xavier Flinois

For Being a Technology Pioneer

Title: President, Parexel Informatics
Company: Parexel International
Education: MEng, École nationale des ponts et chaussées; MSci, Ecole Polytechnique
Family: Wife, Christelle, a laureate writer; children Astrid, Thibault, Alex, and Diane, all passionate citizens of the world
Hobbies: Competitive sailing, traveling, reading
Awards/Honors: ComputerWorld 100 Technology Leaders 2016
Personal Brand: Forward — New — Better

Xavier Flinois is a pioneer of digital transformation of the life-sciences industry. As president of Parexel Informatics, his mission has been to align the company’s technology strategy and operations, and to develop technological innovations that make the drug development process faster, more precise, more trackable, and more productive.

Xavier is admired for his ability to apply science and technology in a practical way that benefits both patients and investigative sites. He has a proven track record of identifying innovations that will be the most impactful to biopharmaceutical companies, laying out a plan, and then investing in and developing that technology.

Known for his collaborative style, Xavier helped lead the charge to the cloud and making sure that clients’ materials were secure and the infrastructure was up to speed and able to handle their demands.

Xavier was also the driver of Parexel’s recent strategic partnership with Microsoft, a first-of-its-kind partnership for both companies that allows Parexel to deliver its informatics solutions on Microsoft’s robust cloud infrastructure. He saw a need for efficiency and innovation in the increasingly complex drug development process, identified an opportunity to provide a solution, and forged a partnership with the largest technology enterprise in the world. He did this all with the goal of developing innovative technologies and cloud-based services to improve the drug development journey and bring drugs to patients faster, which is a true testament to his passion and core values.

Xavier would like to be remembered as a leader who was able to move technology innovation across the industry to bring drugs to market faster. “We are in this business with a purpose, we are saving lives; technology is a way to accelerate access to new cures for patients,” he says.

If he had unlimited resources, he would enable the end-to-end simulation of clinical trials. “This endeavor would take data, modeling, computing, and alignment with all of the various stakeholders,” he says.

Xavier is a strategic thinker and an extremely well-rounded businessperson with experience in a variety of areas that, when combined, provide a unique perspective that challenges his teams to think outside of the pharma box.

His ability to always see the bigger picture drives everyone he works with to deliver. As someone with great determination and foresight, Xavier has a strategic mindset to succeed. Every day he advances initiatives with the end goal of creating something that will better enable clients to deliver new therapies to patients in need.

In addition, he is a fiscally savvy and business-oriented leader, utilizing innovation to benefit both his clients and the company by looking for ways to create efficiencies that will improve the drug development journey while reducing costs and timelines.

He is an open and humble leader and colleague who always listens to and incorporates ideas from others. Colleagues say he is a true pleasure to work with. His ability to communicate and embrace others’ ideas is one of many reasons he has become such a respected leader at Parexel.

Those who work with Xavier say he is the type of leader who inspires and makes them feel as though they are a part of something bigger. His personal drive encourages those around him to rise to the challenge, and with that he gives them space to grow in their careers and be part of something new and exciting.

“I systematically demonstrate that there are many ways, often new ways, to go about solving problems,” he says. “I also relentlessly move forward and demonstrate that staying static is not an option.”

When challenges arise, he says he keeps an eye on the end goal to turn challenges into interesting projects with creative solutions to keep teams motivated. “I am lucky to work in an environment of scientists and technologists, because challenges and problem-solving are the essence of our trade,” he says. (PV)


Dr. Bert Hartog

For Bringing Digital to Clinical Research

Title: Senior Director, Janssen Clinical Innovation
Company: Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
Education: MSc, Biomedicine, PhD, Medicine, Utrecht University
Family: His wife who keeps the family together, she is a busy science teacher, who brings a passion for science to youngsters, helping them become both future scientists and responsible citizens; and two sporty teenage daughters, who manage to combine their education with high-intensity sports training as well as enjoy life to the fullest
Hobbies: Avid information gatherer; lover of social media to connect with lots of people in places he has never been; cycling, running, or just walking — in essence being out and about to enjoy the scenery and weather in Europe
Awards/Honors: Corporate innovation award for the Janssen Global Trial Finder Associations: ACRP
Social Media:
Tweet: @hartog_bert
Personal Brand: Everything will be alright

Bert Hartog, Ph.D., senior director at Janssen Clinical Innovation, is an inspirational and effective business leader who, after working on key patient engagement efforts at Janssen for many years, has taken the lead in efforts to incorporate and scale new digital technologies into the company’s clinical trials. These have advanced Janssen’s capabilities and those of the pharmaceutical industry at large.

The current landscape of digital heath technologies is robust and growing fast, with promising innovations that can dramatically improve care for patients, drive down costs for providers, and boost efficiency for clinicians.

“In the highly regulated drug industry, even the most promising digital solutions must be thoughtfully sought out, tested, and applied to clinical trials in a way that will ensure regulatory needs are met,” Bert says. “In addition, drug development sponsors must consider the impact of connected devices on investigators, trial sites, and patients around the globe.”

While some large pharmaceutical companies have been reluctant to take on the obligation that’s required to adopt digital health mechanisms into clinical research, Bert has been a driving force at Janssen to take on the challenge and bring the company’s clinical trial processes into the 21st century.

Since joining Janssen in 2008, at the cusp of the digital health revolution, peers say Bert has created a proven strategy for evaluating digital health tools and testing their clinical suitability.
Colleagues are inspired by Bert’s commitment to Janssen’s initiatives to design clinical trials around the needs of patients. They say he constantly pushes forward to meaningfully change the way trials are designed and conducted. Through his work with the R&D Innovation team, digital health naturally became his domain, as it offers abundant opportunities for creating a better patient experience and improving the way drugs are developed.

Bert created the first-ever Janssen Digital Health Action Learning Team, pulling together representatives from core R&D operations functions within Janssen to develop and test new digital health solutions, including measuring fatigue in IBD, with the ultimate goal to build capabilities to support using such tools in clinical trials.

He also designed and implemented GlobalTrialFinder, a digital platform that allows patients and caregivers to find clinical trials from Janssen’s portfolio of pipeline products. In addition, he created and implemented a program called Patient Voice that is used to design trials with patients’ preferences in mind. It uses a variety of mechanisms for soliciting and then incorporating direct patient perspectives into clinical trial protocol development to proactively address potential enrollment and retention issues. He also drove the global implementation of a patient exit survey that seeks feedback and insights directly from trial participants to help inform future trial improvements. For these projects, he’s received accolades from throughout the big pharma clinical trial space.

He sees a near future in which these technologies improve the patient experience, are capturing deep patient data, and helping drug scientists and researchers establish new biomarkers to more effectively treat disease. His impact is felt far beyond Janssen; in close partnership with a diverse array of technology start-ups, he launched several projects to overhaul key aspects of clinical research. For example, he has shown that safety monitoring during clinical trials can be done using skin-worn multisensory devices that collect continuous vital signs from patients remotely, which enables patients to spend more time at home and reduces the burden on hospital staff.

Throughout the industry, Bert is influencing the industry conversation on digital health implementation and providing leadership to industry organizations such as TransCelerate that share a vision for clinical trial innovation.

“I’d like to demonstrate what is possible and how technology can be used in a way that is cost-effective, scalable, and safe,” Bert says. (PV)


Chris Cullmann

For Provoking Thought in What Technology Can Be

Title: Head of Digital North America
Company: Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide
Education: BFA, Fine Arts
Family: His wife, who has been by his side through his entire career; 6-year-old son who keeps him going all day
Hobbies: Swimming, hiking, and fishing
Social Media:
Tweet: @cullmann
Personal Brand: Not always pretty, but pretty reliable

Chris Cullmann, head of digital North America at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, began his career in advertising in a creative role about 11 years ago, and it was a role he took to heart.
Right out of college he got a job at a direct marketing agency where he learned how data and segmentation bring meaning and context to a creative execution. Eight years ago, Chris made a pivot from creative director to strategist, a move that he calls a natural extension of his background and skillsets.

His rapid ascension to an inspirational digital leadership role within Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, is a testament to his digital intuitiveness and passion, as well as his communication skill and inclusive leadership style.

“I believe my current role borrows from so many changing influences,” Chris says. “The very nature of curating new technology, understanding its relevance, and applying it in the context of healthcare is a creative process completely.”

Chris welcomes a wide range of ideas, creating open and productive ideation sessions, and he brilliantly builds on and harnesses these ideas, creating a sense of velocity toward tangible closure.

A teacher at heart, his articulate and clear communication style and his sanguine personality endears clients and colleagues to seek him out for education, guidance, and perspective. Chris’ passion provides a perpetual source of inspiration to his teams. He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to delivering innovative digital partnerships and he fosters a culture that encourages internal talent to create meaningful solutions. The depth of his digital acumen, new ideas, and desire to seek out and create what’s next on the digital horizon has earned him the nickname Digital Maestro.

Colleagues say whether Chris is leading small team meetings or large agency scrums. His energy is like oxygen to the creative process. They also say his work ethic is truly inspirational and his support of the teams he manages and supports is unparalleled. As a leader, Chris’ efforts are not self-centered; rather he focuses on the betterment of his team and the enhancement of the agency.

As a digital evangelist, his goal is to make sure that digital as a practice becomes more integrated into industry marketing strategies. Even though audiences are changing and patient populations, particularly, no longer see the lines between channels and platforms, he says healthcare marketers still treat digital strategies and tactics as a separate species, which is a perspective he is eager to change.

Chris measures success from a strategic standpoint. He firmly believes if his team delivers something that no one else could do as well, as innovatively, or as smartly, they have created something of which to be proud.

“I can say that I truly love what I do,” Chris says. “I’m excited to keep finding new challenges and solutions. Our industry changes every day and that too keeps it fresh for me.”

He hopes that when the time comes to hang up his digital bings, interstitials, and midrolls, he will be instrumental in inciting the same passion he has for technology transformation in those with whom has worked, leading them to pursue the passions that get them out of bed in the morning.

“I want to believe I am provoking thought in what can be and helping draw this out through education and a new way of thinking,” Chris says. “Technology in particular is not a burden to learn, the skill is in identifying what technology is going to be meaningful to solve a problem.”
If Chris has any second thoughts at all in terms of his career choices, he says he wishes he had taken more risks.

“I wish that I had been more reckless in my career when I had less at stake — my advice to others is to take an opportunity to work abroad, be more aggressive with creativity, go out on a ledge and learn new skills,” he says. Wise words to those who are looking to be inspired to go further, faster. (PV)


Dr. Georgia Mitsi

For Being a Digital Health Advocate

Title: Senior Director, Head of Digital Healthcare Initiatives
Company: Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Education: Bachelors, Biology, University of Patras, Greece; Masters, Applied Medical Sciences (cytogenetics), Medical School, University of Patras; MBA, International Business, University of Miami; PhD, Pharmacoepidemiology, Medical School, University of Patras
Family: Her father, for teaching her that the value of success lies within knowledge instead of accumulation of material things; her kids, for inspiring her to keep fighting for a better world, specifically, her daughter, to know that women can and will, one day, achieve anything they set their minds to
Hobbies: Reading, creative writing, traveling, yoga, pilates, tennis, skiing, and horseback riding
Awards/Honors: Top 20 Innovator, CenterWatch; Spotlight on Excellence Award, Sunovion; STAR performance award, Humana; Peer Award, United BioSource;; 1st place at North Shore Business Plan competition
Associations: Movement Disorders Digital Health Task Force, CNS Summit Leadership Team
Social Media:
Tweet: @mitsi_georgia
Personal Brand: Be the Force

Two years ago, Georgia Mitsi, Ph.D., took on an entirely new role at Sunovion, leading the company’s global digital health initiatives. A passionate advocate for the advancement in digital health, she began by educating and collaborating with colleagues to determine how best to approach digital health and brought together various areas of innovation throughout the company.

“I focused initial efforts on inspiring our cultural transformation in this area, which was supported by our Vision 2020 strategic roadmap,” she says. “While digital health is about finding ways to incorporate technologies into biopharmaceutical development to benefit patients and other stakeholders, it is also about working with people to create a shared set of beliefs to be able to collectively address the dramatic changes that are happening in our industry. This is a very future-focused area, and we need to be comfortable riding the wave without necessarily knowing 100% where it will take us.”

Dr. Mitsi helps her colleagues understand that digital health opens up the opportunity to connect with different key stakeholders in many new ways and to strengthen the relationship between patients and doctors. Colleagues admire her passion for bringing people together to work collaboratively for a shared purpose. “I am excited by the opportunity I have each day to communicate internally about the potential of digital health and I am committed to elevating Sunovion’s digital footprint in the industry and further improving patients’ lives by offering a better healthcare experience,” she says.

Today, as senior director, head of digital health initiatives, She is helping Sunovion go beyond the pill by focusing on supplementing compounds with technologies and putting those technologies to work to improve health outcomes, because she believes that this is what will truly deliver the most value for patients. The goal, Dr. Mitsi says, is to empower patients to better manage their symptoms and improve quality of life especially for those who are living with chronic medical conditions.

Under Dr. Mitsi’s guidance, Sunovion is also supporting public-private partnerships focused on advancing digital healthcare solutions. She is a driving force behind Sunovion’s partnership with PULSE@MassChallenge, which was launched as a component of the Mass Digital Health Initiative designed to accelerate competitiveness of Massachusetts’ digital healthcare industry.
PULSE@MassChallenge brings together entrepreneurs, investors, companies, legislators, and philanthropists to support the regional digital healthcare ecosystem in the Boston area.

She also is pioneering the use of digital technologies in clinical trials. For example, in 2016, she spearheaded the opportunity for Sunovion to be the first to use the Embrace watch by Empatica to aid in partial-onset seizure detection during an anti-epileptic drug clinical trial.
This Phase IV study aimed to enroll about 190 adults with uncontrolled partial-onset seizures in real-world clinical settings. This use case is part of a broader initiative at Sunovion to develop and validate objective digital biomarkers.

Colleagues say they are inspired by her relentless commitment to achieve a specific goal, her authenticity, kindness, objectivity, and willingness to work tirelessly through challenging situations especially when it means making a difference in people’s lives.

Before joining Sunovion, Dr. Mitsi was founder and CEO of Apptomics, a company revolutionizing scientifically validated mobile applications.

She would like to be remembered as a visionary with a big heart and a sharp mind. “I believe we can only inspire people if we speak directly to their hearts and approach them with empathy,” Dr. Mitsi says. (PV)

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