Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
For Dr. Rich Christie the "joy of creativity and invention" manifests itself in a small robot on his desk, made by his daughter when she was 6 and "cobbled together from springs, nuts, washers, a piece of wood and some old clock gears, with one googly eye and a monocle," he says.
Today, Christie brings "impressive scientific training and deep experience in pharmaceutical consulting and R&D" to the table, spearheading the company's AI-powered platform that can remotely detect biomarkers using audio and visual data from a patient's smartphone, one of his nominators says.
As chief medical officer of AiCure, Christie "serves as a bridge between the scientific expertise of our customers and the technology expertise of our team," his nominator says.
That drive to use technology to help understand patients' symptoms goes all the way back to Christie's time at Harvard Medical School where he fostered that creativity and invention to study Alzheimer's disease using optic methods. What drew him toward the industry rather than academia, however, was seeing the impact new medications for HIV had for patients in the mid-90s.
After pursuing a career in pharmaceutical R&D, he landed jobs with industry bigwigs Johnson & Johnson and Roche before making his way to AiCure.
Today, he oversees the clinical data science team at AiCure, honing the platform's ability to assess patients with an incredible amount of specificity.
"Since joining AiCure, Christie has built a team of top-notch, diverse scientific experts that continue to expand the use of digital biomarkers across disease states, customizing algorithms based on a trial's and a population's unique needs," a nominator says.
And Christie has devoted his efforts to bring together academic and scientific communities to ensure these patient assessments get the attention they deserve.
"While digital biomarkers have existed as a concept for a while, the industry has yet to embrace them as mainstream endpoints, largely due to the proprietary nature of algorithms," his nominator says. "His leadership illustrates Christie's commitment to helping the entire research industry evolve and accelerate AI-enabled advancements."
“Over the past two years, I have focused on creating space for teams to be creative and take risks in problem-solving, something I will continue to hone going forward."
Dr. Rich Christie
Chief medical officer, AiCure
AiCure's platform is designed to bring patient insights on drug efficacy to clinical trials by engaging the participants via their smartphones.
For Christie, bringing technologies that can help patients to the forefront isn't just a drive — it's a conviction.
"The idea that a great scientific innovation that could truly impact patient care might be at risk of never seeing the light of day due to inefficient or suboptimal development, or just 'bad luck' in the development process, is something that continues to keep me up at night," Christie says.
To that end, he has been responsible for nurturing "an open-source community around the use of our data analyses toolkit, a way of 'paying it forward' in collaboration with innovators in the academic community," he says.
As a leader, Christie describes himself as collaborative, open, creative and challenging, and would give one simple piece of advice for fellow leaders: "Listen more than talk."