Reify Health, which offers a range of solutions for clinical trial professionals, has announced the closing of a $220m USD Series D funding round. The money (which reportedly brings the company’s total valuation to more than $4.8b USD) reportedly will be used to accelerate its work in improving diversity and representation in clinical trials.
- Michael Lin, executive chair
- Ahmad Namvargolian, CEO of Care Access (a Reify Health company)
OSP: Please tell us about the recent funding from your investment partners and share whatever detail you can about what the funding will be used for.
ML: We’re on a mission to build a clinical trial ecosystem where people from historically underrepresented communities can learn about, and participate in, clinical trials. We chose to raise additional capital in conjunction with establishing BRIDGE (Bringing Representation, Inclusion, and Diversity to Global Enrollment) because we see an opportunity to accelerate the work we’re doing in this space by deploying more resources now.
As we looked at what’s needed for clinical trials to be more representative and inclusive, we reached two conclusions. First, this is a complex, multi-layered problem that will require significant resource commitments over the next decade if we are to achieve meaningful, long-lasting improvements.
Second, we recognized that we are uniquely positioned to make an impact on this problem through our two businesses, Care Access and StudyTeam. We have a way to contribute, so we have the responsibility to act.
OSP: Please share your perspective on the challenges that underrepresented and minority populations have faced over the years, including any advancements or developments.
AN: Therapies can work differently for different races and ethnicities, and we need to understand these differences early (in clinical trials) before we make the therapy available for everyone. Yet, certain minority communities have been heavily underrepresented in clinical trials, which presents a significant health equity issue.
Also, more people having access to clinical research options is a good thing. More people can contribute to the future of medicine. And for certain illnesses, clinical trials may be a potentially life-changing option.
OSP: What are some of the factors that might contribute to certain populations being underrepresented as clinical trial patients?
AN: Common barriers cited by the industry include site accessibility because of distance or lack of transportation, the considerable time commitments needed for participation, and lack of awareness of clinical trials in close proximity. Over the last several years, we have been working on furthering our understanding of these factors alongside our partners. Through the BRIDGE initiative, we are taking a deeper dive into the entire clinical research ecosystem to truly understand the barriers.
OSP: Then, please share a bit about how Reify has worked to narrow some of these historical gaps, and how your technology solutions help improve outreach and connection with underrepresented communities.
AN: Over the last several years, we’ve worked on improving diversity and representation for many studies through StudyTeam and Care Access.
With StudyTeam’s Diversity Reporting, we have the ability to see how people from different backgrounds are engaged throughout the clinical trial process. We now have more visibility into where in the recruitment process we’re failing to engage people from diverse backgrounds. Are patients from a particular group declining at a disproportionately high rate? Are certain Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria restricting specific groups of people from participating? Or are we just flat out failing to engage certain groups of people, period? StudyTeam helps us answer these questions, determine potential actions to address the issues, and measure the impact of those actions.
Care Access partners with communities to help them learn about clinical trials and then makes clinical research available to them locally. These are often communities that previously did not have access to clinical research.
We’re focused on clinical trials for conditions like dementia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and breast cancer that disproportionately impact traditionally underrepresented minority communities. We partner with local communities to make the trials available to them. For example, we’ve publicly shared our breast cancer work – in partnership with Eli Lilly – where we’re engaging healthcare providers who were typically unable to offer clinical trials as an option to their patients and made it possible for their patients to participate in oncology trials at their local clinics.
We’re launching BRIDGE because we’re at a point where we can make a bigger impact if we organize all of that work, future work, and scalable solutions around a broader initiative that is not only internal to Reify Health but in collaboration with key partners.
OSP: In your announcement, your CEO observes that improving representation is “a complex, multi-layered problem that will require significant resource commitments” to fix. Could you please share some details about how you see that effort going forward in the industry?
ML: Diversity in clinical trials has been an identified issue for a long time. This is not just a 2022 problem, nor will there be a 2022 solution. The industry has to be prepared to do the work, for years to come, to deeply understand the problem and collectively work to build sustainable solutions at scale.
For research sponsors and CROs, reaching diverse populations is not only critical to the integrity of their trials but essential in providing people with access to potentially life-changing options. Recently, the global coronavirus pandemic and social justice movements have added urgency to solving this long-standing challenge. The FDA has also taken a leading role in pushing the industry to increase diversity and improve representation in clinical trials.
OSP: Do you have anything to add?
ML: We started this company 10 years ago because we do not want clinical trials to be the bottleneck for getting safe and effective treatments to people. In this last decade, we focused on building a foundation to set up the company, our partners, and the industry to be able to fundamentally improve how we run clinical trials. The next 10 years are about building on this foundation to make a sustained, large-scale impact. BRIDGE represents the magnitude of impact we aim to make in healthcare in our next decade.