Glen de Vries In MEMORIAM
On Nov. 11, 2021, the world lost a healthcare visionary and trailblazer when Glen de Vries, 49, co-CEO of Medidata, died in a plane crash in New Jersey.
Most recently, Glen fulfilled a lifelong dream in October 2021, as a member of the Blue Origin NS-18 crew, going into space. He was joined by William Shatner, Australian entrepreneur Chris Boshuizen, and Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers. Glen was dedicated to using his space journey to improve life on earth, and actively supported organizations such as Water.org to change lives with access to safe water. In a statement from his family, it was noted that Glen was an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoyed flying his small plane, and a large model of Blue Origin, made out of Lego, was taking shape in his apartment when he died.
Throughout the industry, he will be remembered for his infectious smile, his sense of humor, and most importantly, as #CaptainClinical, as he was fondly known, for transforming the way clinical trials are performed.
“Glen was more than a visionary and a leader who helped set a new standard for what was possible," says Craig Lipset, co-chair of Decentralized Trials & Research Alliance (DTRA).
“He was also a friend and a mentor to so many of the rising leaders across the clinical technology community. That community will be his legacy."
One of those leaders is Joe Dustin, who is currently VP, product strategy at Medable. Joe worked at Medidata for more than 12 years. “Glen had a child-like imagination mixed with an unwavering business swagger and a passion for life that was infectious, inspiring, and palpable," he told PharmaVOICE. “Glen would want us to drive faster, keep our eyes on the goal, and always innovate beyond our comfort zone. He made all of us better by impacting our careers, our lives, and our hearts. He literally touched the heavens before he even got there. To me, he was a leader, a mentor, and a friend. I would not be where I am today without him and the teams he inspired. We have lost a real-life superhero who was truly larger than life and we will miss him dearly."
Early in his career as a bench scientist, Glen had the vision of making electronic research infrastructure the foundation for a new generation of clinical trials, which resulted in the cloud-based RAVE platform. To that end, in 1999 he and Tarek Sherif co-founded Medidata and built the company to become the world’s most-used clinical research platform. For more than two decades, he dedicated his life to powering smarter treatments and a healthier public. He continually drove new, game-changing initiatives, and strategic partnerships for Medidata.
Medidata has become one of the largest life-sciences software companies and an industry leader in EDC and management solutions. The company’s software has managed more than 25,000 clinical trials involving more than 7 million patients. In 2019, Medidata was aquired by Dassault Systèmes.
Glen earned a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and genetics from Carnegie Mellon University in 1994. He endowed the chair of the dean of CMU’s Mellon College of Science in 2018 and later became a trustee of the university. His book, “The Patient Equation" envisioned a future of medicine inspired by his decades of experience in life sciences.
“Glen’s passion and curiosity for people, patients, technology, flight, and so many other aspects of life meant that he was always having fun and living life to the full," says Dr. Amir Kalalli, Chairman of the CNS Summit and co-chair of DTRA. “His legacy will be carried on by the countless number of people who were inspired and positively impacted by him. I am so grateful to have spent time with him in the last week of his life."
Glen’s impact across the industry was considerable in a number of ways. For example, he championed Medidata becoming an inaugural member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s Gender Parity Collaborative. Another example was the company’s rapid response to the pandemic. Medidata collaborated with Moderna to support more than 30,0000 clinical trial participants’ use of the vaccine candidate mRNA-1273. Glen told PharmaVOICE: “Being able to help bring COVID-19 vaccines to so many people in the waiting world has to be one of the highlights of my career."
Glen was an inspirational leader who was not afraid to take chances and push the envelope when it came to improving healthcare for patients. A two-time PharmaVOICE 100 honoree, Glen once said, “When people tell me something can’t be done, I get excited to do it."
“Among the countless lessons, the most important one Glen taught me is that being a good leader starts with being a good person," says Nicole Pariser, another Medidata alumna. “He also showed me that if you put the right people together, you can do anything and what you don’t know, you’ll learn along the way, together. Looking back, it seems very simple: When people know you care, they care too. And if we all care enough to keep trying, we’ll ultimately get it right and, with some luck, have an impact. Teachers like Glen are one in a million. He was my greatest mentor and an incredible friend. I will forever be grateful that he took me under his wing the way he did, and I will always miss him. “
As a valued friend of PharmaVOICE, Glen will always have a place in our hearts and minds.
Albert Bourla Honored at The Sparkle of Hope Gala
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Communities of color and minoritized patient communities are often underrepresented in diagnostic efforts, genome-wide association studies and clinical research trials, leading to a lack of understanding about effective treatments. Additionally, disparities in access to affordable care and social determinants of health create significant added barriers.
RDDC brings together rare disease experts, health and diversity advocates, and industry leaders to identify and advocate for evidence-based solutions to alleviate the disproportionate burden of rare diseases on communities of color. Their mission aligns with that of Global Genes, which is to eliminate the burdens of rare disease by connecting and empowering the community to be effective on their own behalf, spur innovation, meet essential needs, build capacity and knowledge, and drive equitable progress and access within and across rare diseases.
Global Genes and RDDC will collaborate on the RARE Health Equity Summit in Philadelphia; the RARE Data & Evidence Inclusiveness Initiative (RARE DEI); and the Know Your Family History Initiative, an 18-month, multi-channel patient education, engagement, mobilization and data collection and sharing initiative, aimed at building awareness around the importance of knowing your family health history, identifying specific challenges in obtaining an accurate diagnosis, and demonstrating an increase in participation and behaviors supportive of better and more inclusive diagnosis and access to research and care for patients of color within the rare disease community.(PV)
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