Medidata launches AI company to help answer pharma’s big questions

By Melissa Fassbender contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Melpomenem)
(Image: Getty/Melpomenem)

Related tags: Medidata, Acorn AI, Drug discovery, Clinical trials, Commercialization, Artificial intelligence

Acorn AI is designed to answer questions across all phases of drug development, making data “liquid” to help pharma make quick “go/no-go” decisions, accelerate clinical trials, and demonstrate value.

Acorn AI is built on the Medidata platform, and as a Medidata company, will draw on the company’s business development, sales and marketing resources, among others, said the company’s newly-minted president, Sastry Chilukuri, who first joined Medidata in January of this year as executive vice president of digital and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions.

Chilukuri told us Acorn AI is addressing two big trends: “The first is we’re increasingly getting into a world of precision medicine, with CAR-T therapy, tissue engineering, gene and cell therapy, etcetera.” ​The other is the advancement of the advancement of AI and new sources of data.

Now, increasingly, Chilukuri said researchers have a 360-degree view of the patient, including clinical, genomic, molecular, as well as socioeconomic, behavioral, and environmental data, which is creating “an enormous opportunity around personalization,”​ he explained. “That’s really the big opportunity.”

In order to fully capture this opportunity, Chilukuri said life science companies need to make data “liquid” to answer a few important questions.

“At the end of the day if you take step back there a few important decisions that sponsors are trying to make. The first is which drugs do they make go/no-go decisions on coming out of discovery,”​ he explained. “The second big decision is around how do you accelerate clinical trials to get the treatment to market faster.”

The third big question is how do companies create better-integrated evidence, including both clinical evidence as well as real-world evidence, to demonstrate the value of products with payers, regulators, providers, and patients.

To help answer, Acorn AI is building custom pipelines that allow users to link these various data sources, added Chilukuri, who said there is “one big key to success”​ with AI and digital transformation: High-quality data.

“Increasingly, what we’re finding is garbage in garbage out,”​ he added, and while consumer-facing applications have more room to test and learn, the margin for error in health care is low.

“We think Acorn AI differentiates in the market because we have structured, standardized clinical data,” ​said Chilukuri.

Also key, is expertise, to frame the right questions and extract insights, he said, addressing the company’s team of industry veterans.

Among this team includes Rachel Sherman, MD, former principal deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who joins Acorn AI as the chief scientific and medical advisor. Previously with IBM Watson Health, Kathy McGroddy-Goetz, PhD, will lead strategy and alliances.

The company also has hired the former chief information officer (CIO) of Janssen Americas, Rama Kondru, who in addition to his role as CEO of Acorn AI, become Medidata’s first-ever CIO.

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