Accelerating Clinical Development through Design, Diversity & Digitalization in Oncology and Beyond

Life Sciences, Clinical Trials, Patient Recruitment & Retention, Drug Discovery & Development,
  • Thursday, May 16, 2024

In this dynamic panel-type webinar, the expert speakers will explore how to speed drug development and improve return on investment (ROI) by adopting a “3-D” approach to trials focusing on design, diversity and digitalization.

Oncology trials present unique challenges and will be the focal point for this discussion, but the key insights the speakers will cover are applicable to a wide range of therapeutic areas. Therefore, attendance is recommended across all therapeutic areas, ranging from cardiovascular to neuroscience to rare disease and, in fact, any enrollment-challenged indications.

The need to improve geographical, racial, ethnic and other forms of diversity and inclusion in trials — including new legislation and regulatory guidance documents to spur adoption of diverse trials — has been at the forefront of the industry for several years.


The speakers will draw insights from what has worked and what still needs to be done, and how new tools, digital and mobile health and other innovative approaches can lead the way. Again, oncology poses special challenges due to the rarity of patients in certain indications and limitations on the ways in which recruitment can occur, particularly during earlier trial phases and where patient-centric approaches may be hard to implement.

With so many recent advances in the application of “big data” strategies and artificial intelligence to trial design and execution, the speakers will discuss concrete ways in which these novel approaches have impacted trials and pipelines. With the perspective of a leading oncology CRO, the speakers will review case studies and aggregate insights with an eye toward improving trial outcomes and performance against key performance indicators (KPIs) by working within an ecosystem where the CRO, investigator sites, patient advocacy groups and industry-leading partners all contribute to a shared mission of accelerating getting new treatments to patients in need.

The panel will cover key questions about innovative approaches to keeping your trials on track to meet their timelines and other key performance indicators.

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Register for this webinar today to gain insights into innovative approaches to keeping clinical development on track to meet timelines and other KPIs.


Dr. Geoffrey Kannan, Fortrea

Geoffrey Kannan, PhD, MD, Executive Medical Director, Head of Americas Oncology Therapeutic Area Expertise, Fortrea

Geoffrey Kannan, PhD, MD, is an Executive Medical Director in the Oncology Therapeutic Area, Head of the Americas Oncology Team and Lead for the Pediatric Oncology Medical Science Leadership Center. Dr. Kannan also provides medical and scientific governance to Sponsors, supporting development and execution of oncology clinical trials. Dr. Kannan brings more than 25 years of oncology scientific and medical experience to Fortrea.


Dr. Kannan trained as a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and pediatric neuro-oncologist and has served at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s Hospital and on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kannan joined Fortrea out of practice as a pediatric neuro-oncologist affiliated with Inova Children’s Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center. At Fortrea, Dr. Kannan leads medical and scientific oncology therapeutic expertise and strategic endeavors for Fortrea’s Americas-based oncology physicians and Fortrea’s pediatric oncology initiatives, lending an experienced voice to guide industry partners to bring life-saving therapies to children afflicted with cancer.

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Brian Dolan, Fortrea

Brian Dolan, Vice President, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Fortrea

Brian Dolan is a mathematician, inventor and cyberneticist with decades of experience building enterprise-grade artificial intelligence products. Equally comfortable in product, sales and technology roles, Brian excels at translating complex business problems into tractable mathematical solutions. He leverages 10 years of CXO experience leading multiple companies from seed to growth stage, including Yahoo, Greenplum and Deep6 AI and others. Before joining Fortrea, he most recently served as the CEO of Verdant AI.

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Alicia M. Baker McDowell, Fortrea

Alicia M. Baker McDowell, DRSc, MS, EMBA, Head of Regulatory Strategy and Product Development Consulting, Fortrea

Alicia Baker McDowell is Head of Regulatory Strategy and Product Development Consulting at Fortrea based in Southern New Jersey. Alicia has over 28 years of drug development experience, including over 25 years in global regulatory strategy. Alicia has registered products across the globe in over 90 countries and is experienced in direct agency interactions with health authorities, including US FDA, EMA, Health Canada, MHRA, NMPA, PMDA, KFDA, TGA and others.

Her experience spans small molecules, biologics, advanced therapies and devices across multiple therapeutic areas. She is also well versed in rare disease development and expedited development pathways and designations. Recently, she has lead an enterprise wide workstream on Diversity Plans at Fortrea transitioning into a strategic offering for clients with the team engaged in writing over 30 diversity plans.


Alicia leads a team of seasoned product development directors and regulatory strategists that are experts in nonclinical, clinical and CMC development.  Her team manages 40 to 50 agency meetings per year around the globe.

Alicia has a BS in Biology from St. Joseph’s University, a MS in Regulatory Affairs/Quality Assurance from Temple University, a MS in Regulatory Science from the University of Southern California, an Executive MBA from Quantic School of Business and Technology and a Doctorate in Regulatory Science from the University of Southern California.

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Melissa Harris, Fortrea

Melissa Harris, Head of Global Patient Recruitment and Engagement, Fortrea

Melissa Harris has 23 years of industry experience dedicated to accelerating patient recruitment from all possible feeds, including site EHRs, AI and data-enabled recruitment channels, digital and online media and community engagement programs. Melissa works to harness the benefits of applying innovative solutions toward successful patient recruitment and retention campaigns while driving health literacy, diversity and inclusion and patient access equity to reduce study burden and facilitate enrollment into everyday life. Melissa heads up Fortrea’s Voice of Patient program to drive patient insights into every step of the drug development paradigm and is a Co-Lead of Fortrea’s Site Advisory Board.

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Ryan Kirby, Fortrea

Ryan Kirby, Associate Director, Digital Health and Innovation, Fortrea

Ryan Kirby has 20 years of industry experience. He has served in various roles at Fortrea since 2012 that include Study Start-up, Clinical Monitoring, Clinical Operations management, and Digital Health & Innovation. He is a founding member of Fortrea’s Digital Health organization and a recognized leader within the field.

Ryan supports strategic partnerships and specializes in digital strategy development to drive operational efficiencies and innovation through internal and external collaboration. He has been instrumental in changing how Fortrea partners with industry leaders to develop a better digital ecosystem to support trial delivery. Ryan’s special interest lies in exploring the latest digital technologies to improve patient experience and stakeholder engagement.

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Who Should Attend?

This webinar will be useful for bio/pharmaceutical and medical device/biotechnology professionals working in the following areas:

  • Oncology: Sponsors with a pipeline supporting novel cancer therapeutics
  • Rare diseases and other recruitment-limited indications: learn strategies to meet your timelines
  • Trial optimization: anyone working on trial design and optimization for the latest models including patient-centric design and artificial intelligence
  • Investigator site relations: Investigators and all stakeholders responsible for identifying and working with sites
  • Patient recruitment: all clinical trial staff that focus on recruitment and relationships with patient advocacy groups (PAGs)
  • Diversity plans: Sponsors looking for guidance and assistance with successfully writing, executing, and tracking plans
  • Digital health technology: industry professionals looking to deepen their understanding of changes within the clinical research

What You Will Learn

Attendees will learn about:

  • Key lessons in applying novel strategies to boost DEI from real-world examples to support trial designs that will enhance ROI and adherence to KPIs
  • The importance of incorporating new data strategies and the impact of artificial intelligence on trial design and execution will be discussed in the form of case studies and insights from around the industry

Xtalks Partner


Fortrea is a leading global provider of clinical development and patient access solutions to the life sciences industry. We partner with emerging and large biopharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic companies to drive healthcare innovation that accelerates life changing therapies to patients in need. Fortrea provides phase I-IV clinical trial management, clinical pharmacology, differentiated technology enabled trial solutions and post-approval services. Fortrea’s solutions leverage three decades of experience spanning more than 20 therapeutic areas. Our talented and diverse team of more than 19,000 people working in more than 90 countries is scaled to deliver focused and agile solutions to customers globally.

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