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Q&A With Joe Schmidt, EVP, Head of Customer Services and Success at Medidata


Schmidt discusses the recent announcement that Medidata and the NCI extended their partnership an additional five years.

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt
EVP, Head of Customer Services and Success

Medidata recently announced that it will extend its partnership with the National Cancer Institute by five years. The two organizations have been partnering for 15 years. Medidata’s Joe Schmidt, EVP and head of customer services and success spoke with Pharmaceutical Executive about this news.

Pharmaceutical Executive: Can you describe Medidata’s relationship with the NCI?

Joe Schmidt: My teams are the folks that are working closely with our customers in terms of implementation, ongoing support, best practices, help desk services, and making sure our customers are getting the most value from the Medidata platform. We have a long-standing relationship with NCI and we've extended our 15 year relationship. What I'm most proud of is how our teams have really worked together, but with NCI it's great to see the collaboration in terms of the integrations we've built in their ecosystem and how we have worked with them to make sure that this is the platform of choice for their clinical data management system. We have hundreds of people there that they're trained on the platform, the benefits, and the ongoing continuous improvement. We have a long history.

One of the most catalyzing moments for the industry was the COVID pandemic, but I think even for our relationship on how we work with the NCI to make sure research was ongoing. We had to make sure that patients were getting what they needed. Oncology research is complex, so how do you make sure that you can deliver at scale and speed, but be agile enough in these complex studies to accommodate the protocol design versus trying to fit the protocol to the systems.

PE: Why did you decide to extend Medidata’s partnership with the NCI?

Schmidt: Medidata has a long and robust history and experience in oncology, and our mission is powering smarter treatments for healthier people. It all starts with the patients and what we can do with them. What the NCI is doing is something we want to be a part of it any way we can and help support them. As we were talking through this collaboration, it's not only about continuing to do what we're doing, but also exploring their ability to adopt more of the platform so they use multiple solutions from us. This contract really allows us to figure out together how we are taking clinical development forward. It's evolving, and things need to change, whether that's through what we've learned during the pandemic, budget pressure, new technologies, or the treatments that are available. We're excited about it for what it's going to do for patients.

PE: How do platforms like the Medidata platform benefit researchers?

Schmidt: There are several ways. We have the experience of running over 30,000 studies, so the stability and scalability of the platform is our core foundation. The security and safeguards we have in place are other factors. We are seeing that when customers are adopting more products, they are, on average, reducing the study timelines by five months, they're getting builds done a month faster, and they're closing databases faster. When you're doing this all in one place, you are really just minimizing the number of moving parts and you're able to standardize the data and processes.

PE: What trends have you seen in oncology and cancer research?

Schmidt: A couple of things. The complexity is growing around how we are leveraging the data that's already been generated to look at how you're either informing study design, the number of treatment arms, and the patients you're looking for. I think you're using the past to inform the future in your study design and as I said before a lot of it is speed and simplicity. We have complex protocols, but you don't want to have a lot of complexity in how you execute it, so how do you simplify the execution while maintaining the study design requirements?

PE: In the coming years, how does Medidata plan to have a bigger impact than already has on Cancer Research?

Schmidt: It's continuing to focus on a science led and data-driven model. The COVID pandemic did a lot to advance people's thought process and on how to conduct studies, which has been helpful. I think there is an acceleration in how you conduct studies, whether it's via decentralized things like synthetic control arms or highlighting the importance of going to underserved communities and getting diversity in the patient population. More than ever, I'm seeing that there's a big focus on the patient centricity side. You have to ask what do patients need to make research easier, how do you make it easier for sites in terms of the tools you're giving them, and then how can you continue to make those systems work together seamlessly. That's why we've enjoyed a lot of success with the platform and having all that data in one place so that you can use it. I think that the patient led data centric mindset is big.

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