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Big data and technology are key drivers of future innovation in the industry, and these leaders are always looking forward to the next big idea.
Creating a Digital Health Transformation
Raising the bar… by delivering solutions that reach from bench to bedside
Rama K. Kondru, Ph.D.
Title: Executive VP, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Information Officer
Company: Medidata, a Dassault Systèmes Company
Company Awards: Accelerated Executive Leadership (AEL) program, Johnson & Johnson, 2018; Accelerated Executive Orientation (AEO), Johnson & Johnson, 2017; Janssen Leadership Award, Real World Evidence GOC Level Initiative, 2016; Janssen Leadership Award, Oncology Therapeutic Area, 2015; Janssen Leadership Award for Innovation, 2014; Horizons, Accelerated Leadership Program at Hoffmann-La Roche, 2010-12
Associations: Real World Evidence in HealthCare; CIO Forum; CDO/CIO/CTO Leadership Council; Artificial Intelligence and Business Analytics group; Big Data, Machine Learning, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, IoT & Blockchain
With a deep appreciation for what medicine can accomplish and a conviction that technology will fuel progress, Rama Kondru, Ph.D., is focused on driving change in how diseases are diagnosed and patients cared for.
As Medidata’s executive VP, chief technology officer and chief information officer, Dr. Kondru leads a team of about 1,000 software engineers, architects, and data scientists. His job is twofold: improving and innovating the technology platform that supports nearly 20,000 clinical trials and overseeing architecture, engineering, software quality, data science, and information security across the entire company.
He is deeply committed to the industry’s digital transformation, propelling Medidata’s mission of powering smarter treatments and healthier people.
“The digital health and transformation of healthcare is upon us and we have to overcome the challenges by embracing tech innovation,” he says. “Every group, department, or employee within an organization should lead with innovation to conquer the difficult challenges ahead of us to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other complex diseases. Companies that have a deep understanding of disease and that leverage data and technologies such as AI, will create compelling solutions that will drive transformative medical innovation.”
During his more than 20-year career in the life-sciences industry, Dr. Kondru has learned about the importance of inclusivity. At Medidata, he expects all leaders on his team to complete unconscious bias training and is committed to doubling the organization’s diverse hiring. He is proud of his achievements in building world-class teams and delivering innovative capabilities that have a transformative impact on healthcare.
For Dr. Kondru the way to propel his dreams of digitally transforming healthcare is to bring his team members along and engage them fully. He wants to hear what others think and he trusts the ability of those he works with to do the job. Dr. Kondru empowers his team to take risks and act thoughtfully but decisively.
Success, to him, is about fulfilling the promise to deliver value to patients and customers. “We have organizational metrics, but these are secondary to the lasting impact we deliver for people across the globe,” he says.
Mentoring is important to Dr. Kondru, who says this gives him an opportunity to be a friend, coach, and an advisor at the same time. “This also gives me an opportunity to reflect on some of the decisions I make with a different lens,” he says.
Dr. Kondru came to the United States after graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai to pursue a Ph.D. in biophysics, quantum chemistry, and advanced analytics at the University of Pittsburgh. He was drawn to the intersection of technology and medicine and later completed his postdoc training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. Dr. Kondru quickly got his footing in the pharma world working as a scientist at multiple companies, such as Roche, UCB, and Janssen. “During the initial stages of my career as a scientist, I was absorbed by the intricacies of understanding the human body, the biology, chemistry, and the complex interactions of genes,” he says. “I used my creativity to find novel molecules as therapeutic agents and these efforts resulted in more than 30 patents and 30 peer-reviewed publications.”
Now, in the later part of his career as an executive, he is building teams and organizations that are transforming themselves, and the life-sciences industry through the use of cutting-edge data sciences and AI. Dr. Kondru loves being part of an industry that provides hope for patients, drives clinical cures for deadly diseases, and helps humanity.
“Workplace culture is very important for teams to thrive,” he says. “From a leadership perspective, it’s easy to see that ‘the bigger the dream, the more important the team.’ My leadership style is embracing and empowering the team to achieve greatness. Almost 20 years ago, I was told that the doors of opportunities open and close. When they are open, you need to run through them, but you also need to remember that they can close quickly and you might end up running into a wall. So, you need to be cognizant about where you are, what the situation is, and how fast you run.” (PV)
Precision Medicine Innovator
Raising the bar… by listening, being empathetic, and making others great
Title: National Director US Life Sciences
Company: Microsoft Corp.
Company Awards: Three-time winner of Microsoft Gold Club; 12-time winner of the annual Microsoft Circle of Excellence awards in Technical Superiority, Public Sector Service and Top Subsidiary categories
A few years ago, there were only a handful of research projects involving artificial intelligence (AI) in the life sciences. Today, nearly every pharma company is implementing AI, has an AI Center of Excellence, or is exploring the potential of AI across their business. Dave Meyers has been a leader in driving that adoption.
A tech industry veteran with almost 25 years at Microsoft, Dave has been instrumental in driving the industry toward the promise of precision medicine through the application of AI and other emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), blockchain, and augmented reality to solve the most challenging problems in the industry.
Dave has had his hand in various projects and early adoptions of AI across the value chain of the pharma business. And he is a true evangelist for innovation, presenting to countless audiences on the emerging trends and capabilities of AI in pharma, including the inspirational, the aspirational, and the lessons learned from research projects and pilots.
Through the development of partnerships and collaborations, this innovator has brought many solutions to market that are transforming the pharma business.
“I am considered a convener or a collaborator,” Dave says. “I can see the big picture or endgame and convene the right group of people who can create or deliver an innovative solution.”
Dave has focused on developing the entire precision medicine ecosystem, from accelerating drug discovery to scaling the clinical implementations and enabling clinical workflows, by bringing together Microsoft researchers — computer and data scientists — into strategic partnerships and collaborations with key partners, research organizations, incubators, and startups that are focused on AI application in pharma.
“One of my career highlights was having the privilege of partnering with one of the largest research institutions, a world-renowned academic medical center, to envision and develop a precision medicine platform,” he says. “This is one of the biggest and most comprehensive cloud platforms aimed at accelerating research. It is rapidly scaling clinical practice to deliver on the promise of precision medicine.”
Dave says his greatest concern is overcoming the impediments and distractions that get in the way of the mission to accelerate innovation in drug discovery and precision medicine.
He has a deep personal connection to push for innovation in drug discovery. “My family has been touched, too much, by neurodegenerative diseases,” he says. “A professional goal for me is to apply my knowledge of AI, genomics, and other leading technologies to tackle these diseases. I want to play a part in applying technology to the development of a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s, for example.”
Dave seeks to inspire his team by understanding others’ perspectives and motivations — their abilities, needs, desires, goals, and their potential — and showing them what’s possible.
For him, success is measured not just by outcomes and results, but whether a person has leaned in, given his or her best effort, and acted with integrity.
When challenges arise, he says he tries to be calm and level-headed, listen to others, empathize, and process setbacks and come back when everyone is ready to reset and be re-inspired to achieve the endgame and focus on the journey.
Dave’s personal circumstances growing up give him a special appreciation for mentorship. “I continue to appreciate the power and impact of those relationships — from both sides,” he says.
Dave’s enthusiasm to give back goes beyond his mentorship of colleagues; he also works closely with Hugs Across the County, which is associated with St. Johns County School District staff, to provide assistance to students in need, including the nearly 1,000 students considered homeless. “We provide new and gently used clothing, new shoes, school supplies and new books, as well as classroom volunteers and mentors,” he says.
In his office, Dave has a pottery collection created by each of his three children while in elementary school. “This collection of ‘art’ inspires me to be bold and to do my best; it also keeps me grounded and reminds me of what is truly important in life,” he says. (PV)