Dr. Rama Konru

PharmaLeaders recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Rama Kondru, CEO of Veridix AI, discussing his personal journey as well as the company’s innovative strides in the intersection of AI and life sciences.

PharmaLeaders: Dr. Kondru, your journey seems to be a blend of technology and life sciences. How did this path lead you to integrate AI in clinical research?

Dr. Kondru: My personal journey into AI and technology within life sciences, particularly in clinical research, began with my work at Johnson & Johnson, where I led a team of data scientists. This experience, combined with my computational sciences background and research in HIV protease simulations, guided me towards the realization of the transformative power of computational methods in biological problem-solving. My passion for applying AI in pharmaceuticals has been driven by the potential to impact patient care through every phase of drug development and commercialization.

PharmaLeaders: Veridix AI stands out for its commitment to integrating AI in clinical research. How do you envision this technology transforming the industry, especially in terms of patient outcomes?

Dr. Kondru: At Veridix AI, we envision AI as a pivotal force in transforming clinical research, particularly in enhancing patient outcomes. By leveraging AI, we aim to accelerate clinical trials end-to-end, from patient recruitment to protocol design, and streamline trial planning to reduce time to market for new therapies. This technology promises to not only improve the efficiency of clinical trials but also make them more accessible and tailored to individual patient needs, ultimately leading to better health outcomes.

PharmaLeaders: Could you share some of the cutting-edge technological advancements Veridix AI is currently exploring or implementing? How do these innovations position you at the forefront of the industry?

Dr. Kondru: We are proud to be at the forefront of several technological advancements. We are exploring the use of generative AI models to automate the creation of protocol documents, patient narratives, and clinical study reports, as well as machine learning algorithms to predict site and patient feasibility. This approach will shorten the trial planning and setup phase and reduce the overall timeline to completion and regulatory submission. These innovations are not only accelerating the pace at which trials can be conducted, but also ensuring that they are more precise, patient-centric, and likely to succeed.

PharmaLeaders: AI’s impact on various industries is undeniable. Specifically, how does AI enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of clinical trials at Veridix AI?

Dr. Kondru: AI significantly enhances the efficiency of clinical trials by automating and optimizing many aspects of the trial process. We use AI to streamline patient recruitment, trial setup, and protocol design, which helps in reducing the time and cost associated with clinical trials. AI’s role extends to improving the accuracy of trial outcomes through enhanced data analysis, leading to more reliable and faster decision-making processes.

PharmaLeaders: With the surge of data availability, how does Veridix AI ensure the quality and integrity of data used in making critical research decisions?

Dr. Kondru: We prioritize the quality and integrity of data through rigorous checks and balances. We employ AI-driven tools for real-time data monitoring, quality assurance, and risk management to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data used in making critical research decisions. Since our clinical data management platform allows us to ingest and automatically standardize data from many different sources, we can apply our AI tools holistically, on all data collected across the trial rather than in a siloed manner. This approach allows us to maintain the highest standards of data integrity.

PharmaLeaders: Every pioneering journey faces its set of challenges. What have been some of the biggest hurdles in integrating AI into clinical research, and how has Veridix AI addressed them?

Dr. Kondru: Integrating AI into clinical research presents challenges, including overcoming resistance to new technologies and ensuring AI solutions are compliant and validated. We address these challenges by constantly educating our stakeholders about the potential and benefits of AI, and by validating our AI solutions to meet regulatory standards, which helps facilitate their acceptance and adoption in clinical research.

PharmaLeaders: As AI becomes more prevalent in life sciences, ethical considerations also rise. How does Veridix AI navigate the ethical implications of using AI in clinical research?

Dr. Kondru: We are committed to the ethical use of AI by ensuring transparency, accountability, and the incorporation of safeguards against misuse. Our approach includes continuous dialogue on ethical AI use and implementing AI in a manner that prioritizes patient safety and outcomes.

PharmaLeaders: Looking towards the future, what emerging trends in AI and technology do you believe will have the most significant impact on clinical research?

Dr. Kondru: Emerging trends in AI and technology that will significantly impact clinical research include patient and site burden simulations, improved site feasibility, automation of medical text processing, image analysis, and video analytics to assist in rater programs. Large-scale predictions using disparate data sets will lead to improved understanding of disease and treatment efficacy in patient sub-populations. These advances will accelerate participant enrollment, improve diversity and inclusion, and drive insights that will lead to development of new therapies in shorter timelines.

PharmaLeaders: How critical are strategic partnerships and collaborations to Veridix AI’s mission, and can you share any recent or upcoming initiatives?

Dr. Kondru: Strategic partnerships and collaborations are crucial to Veridix AI’s mission. We engage with open-source communities, healthcare technology companies, and biological systems platforms to integrate a wide range of technologies and innovations. These collaborations enable us to stay at the forefront of AI applications in clinical research, ensuring we can leverage the best tools and insights for our projects.

PharmaLeaders: At the heart of clinical research is patient care. Can you share a case study or example where Veridix AI’s technology directly benefited patient outcomes?

Dr. Kondru: As part of our work with NIAID (part of the NIH), Emmes (and Veridix AI) served as the statistical and data coordinating center for the phase I trial of the COVID-19 MRNA vaccine co-developed by NIAID and Moderna. Our Advantage eClinical platform was used to capture the data needed for this urgently needed vaccine. Vaccine development was initiated after the SARCoV-2 genome was posted on January 10, 2020. Manufacture and delivery of the clinical trial materials was completed within 45 days, and the first trial participants were vaccinated just 66 days after the genomic sequence of the virus was posted. Our Advantage eClinical platform was able to support these aggressive timelines due to its ease of use and easily configurable data model. The results from this trial provided the necessary safety and efficacy data to launch large scale clinical trials shortly thereafter. (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2022483 )

PharmaLeaders: Leading a cutting-edge company like Veridix AI requires a unique leadership style. How would you describe your approach to leadership and fostering innovation within your team?

Dr. Kondru: My leadership approach is grounded in embracing change and fostering innovation. I believe in empowering my team by promoting a culture of continuous learning and adaptation to new technologies. This approach encourages creativity and allows us to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving industry.

PharmaLeaders: Finally, as we wrap up today, we’d like to really thank you for your time! It’s clear that you’ve been at the forefront of deploying AI in the life sciences space. One last question – for those looking to make a mark in integrating technology with life sciences, what advice would you offer based on your experience and success at Veridix AI?

Dr. Kondru: My advice is to be bold, stay true to your vision, and embrace failure as a steppingstone to success. Innovation in this field is a marathon, not a sprint. Passion for your work and a commitment to making a difference will drive your success. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.