It was 1977 when Craig Lipset discovered that he was color-blind. “I was at a routine screening at my elementary school and I remember several other students waiting in the office at that time – one even whispered ‘I’m glad I’m not color-blind!’ I know it’s strange that I never ‘self-diagnosed’ before then, but I suppose I did not know what I was not seeing.”
Lipset left the nurse’s office with a newfound curiosity about his own biology – how do the variances between people manifest themselves in physical, real-world differences?
“My first connection to biology was when it became personal – when I appreciated genetics as more than a chapter in a textbook but something that affects how we live our lives every day. Personal connections and experiences continue to motivate and inspire my current work. Today this is embodied in the ways we are engaging patients early for feedback on study plans, working to meet the information needs of clinical trial participants, and launching tools that improve their experience. I am fortunate to speak with patients and advocates on a regular basis – it keeps my work very personal.”
Today, Lipset is Pfizer’s Head of Clinical Innovation in the Global Product Development organization, where he works with a team to help connect patients with clinical trials and develop innovative tools and approaches for the studies. His team works alongside regulators, researchers, patients, and other pharmaceutical companies to develop and introduce new ways to use digital tools – wearables, social media, and electronic health records – in clinical research. They aim to improve common clinical trial challenges and study participation by better integrating patients.
In recent years, shiny new advances in technology have captured the attention of researchers and started to push the boundaries of what’s possible in clinical settings. Fitbit launched a modern fitness tracker in 2009 and spurred a flood of new wearable technologies that eventually went from consumer to clinic. 1Tech giant Apple released Research Kit in 2015 as an open-source platform for medical researchers to gather data more frequently and accurately from patients using apps. 2These advances inspire the same curiosity Lipset had as a child – the ability to better understand the unique patient experience.
“There are amazing new tools emerging for researchers, but the breakthrough I am most looking forward to is a new role for the patient in clinical research.
“The voice of the patient is rising, and smart organizations are listening, learning, and engaging. These insights will continue to make a meaningful impact on how medicines are developed, while the experience of patients participating in trials will improve. Medicine is personal – I look forward to what is possible as we better integrate personal patient experiences into our research.