Avik Pal: Nurturing Innovation in Clinical Trials
Clinical trials for centuries have been the primary source of innovation in the field of medical sciences. The story of Dr. William Beaumont and Alexis St. Martin who served as a live test subject for the doctor’s experiment on gastric juices extracted from his wound is quite popular amongst physicians worldwide and could be considered the first account of experimentation on live test subject at least as far as modern medicine is concerned. Clinical trials in the past few decades have ensured that the drugs that are being distributed in hat today can be called an astronomical margin, are safe and effective to the purpose they serve.Considering the remarkable number of clinical trials that are being performed for a myriad of drugs, the resultant data would on an equally large margin and maintaining and analyzing which would require an effective system derived from the latest in computer technology that we today posses. One man took it upon himself to deliver this aspect of technology to the medical world.Our story begins at the hallowed halls of the Indian Institute of Technology, an esteemed educational institution which has nurtured many intellects from the sub-continent that have gone on to accomplish many things in a myriad of verticals across the world. One such intellect is Avik Pal, whose education and the influence it had on him, prompted him to set out on a journey that is ultimately revolutionizing the world of clinical research.
Avik journey started with hispassion for social entrepreneurship and last mile impact, with iKure, which in his words is “a company that strives to make quality healthcare affordable and accessible to the last mile using technology innovation.”This introduced Avik and his colleagues to the art of healthcare data collection and the challenges it encompasses. This experience despite the hardships offered everyone involved results beyond their expectations, including Avik who later on leveraged the knowledge gained in his own personal venture with the inception of CliniOps. For Avik however, iKure was just the tip of the ice berg as he realized in the farther stages of his journey. Much help to this end came from his better half, a physician who provided useful insights to Avik on the challenges of data management in clinical trials.Her inferences had many similarities to the one Avik had drawn from his work at iKure and they all pointed to one inevitable fact- that the many technological advancements in the healthcare sector had done very less to address these issues pertaining to clinical trial data management. It was this conclusion that eventually lead to the inception of CliniOps. Soon after Avik reconnected with an old friend of his from IIT, Yerramalli Subramaniam (Subbu), who joined in as the CTO and co-founder and helped bring this dream of complete digitization in the clinical trial area to reality from ground zero. Subbu since inception has served as a vital force behind the company’s innovations.
According to Avik having a false sense of confidence that a startup venture can be accomplished without a co-founder could hurt an entrepreneur in his/her endeavor. Additionally, believing that marketing/biz development is an activity that starts after the product is ready could also hinder progress and have an impact on the business venture.Avik also shares the five important qualities of leadership as proposed by a very respected alumni of IIT, Romesh Wadhwani, in one of his speeches- Being passionate in what you do, Building trust, the Ability to inspire, the Ability to influence and Giving back. This speech had a profound effect on Avik and he intends to keep the principles he gained therein close to his heart throughout his life.
Being the CEO of an organization that operates both out of the U.S. and India, Avik’s day is fairly planned out and usually starts pretty early and ends very late allowing him ample time to address the needs of both offices. According to Avikhis most productive work comes out during the wee hours of the morning, which also allows him to plan the rest of the day and some quality time for meditation to stay focused and relieve the stress that comes with such responsibility. While being the leader of an organization that caters products for something as critical as clinical trials has Avik’s time fairly rationed out for his professional responsibilities, this entrepreneur manages to allocate time for community work as well. He currently serves as the co-Chairman of the IIT alumni community in the San Francisco Bay area, which is represented by over 12,000 graduates from the institution. Avik also dedicates his time to golf and is an avid follower of the sports of Cricket and Tennis. During his time off he also enjoys doodling on canvas, playing his Hawaiian guitar and most important of all spending time with his family. With all this in his itinerary Avik has also managed to feed his passion for travelling which has taken him to over 35 countries which also included an expedition to the frozen continent of Antarctica.
With a cluster of talents and passions revolving around him, Avik never fails to deliver his best for the cause that he and his organization believe in. He refers to his partnership with Subbu as a key driving force in the organization’s success. “Make sure to have a strong trusted partner, who can walk with you through thick and thin as you build the company together. Entrepreneurship is noteasyand going solo makes it all the more difficult,” he says. Avik also stresses the point that being closely connected with the customers and end users can work wonders while developing a good product and taking it to the market. “A good product is not developed inside the closed doors of the office, but by going to the field and talking to the users on the ground,” he adds.
With a fair bit of experience under their belt Avik and his team are ready to take the future head on as patients and consumers of various healthcare drugs and products become more engaged and informed. “Our roadmap has several product lines planned in clinical trial conduct, remote monitoring, patient engagement, and advanced analytics with real world evidence,” says Avik.
Quote: "A Mobile, Cloud-based, Digital Solutions company for the Clinical trial industry and Global Health Research"