Mission and Purpose at TrialSpark

There are several thousand known human diseases, yet we only have FDA-approved treatments for about 500 of them.

Benjamine Liu
Nov 14, 2018 · 4 min read

Despite the sweeping technological changes transforming biotech — and society at large — the process of bringing a new drug to market still lasts longer than 10 years, and costs billions of dollars. What’s more, the time and costs are actually increasing, contributing to rising drug prices, inflated healthcare costs, and, ultimately, decreased access to treatments for patients.

Those familiar with Moore’s Law — the idea that computer processing power doubles every two years — may recognize that the above diagram for ‘Eroom’s Law’ highlights an opposing trend in biotech (Eroom is literally Moore spelled backwards). Drug development has become slower and more expensive over time, despite dramatic improvements in technology. In fact, the number of new drugs approved per one billion R&D dollars spent has halved just about every nine years since 1950.

TrialSpark’s mission is to bring new treatments to patients faster and more efficiently.

To achieve that goal, we must first target the biggest bottleneck that stands in its way. Before we talk about what that bottleneck is, let’s briefly talk about what it isn’t.

Finding new drug candidates isn’t the problem

This was a fact I didn’t fully appreciate as a graduate student in computational biology. Like many, I believed that the availability of new treatments was limited because there simply weren’t enough drug candidates being researched and discovered. When I began my studies, I was excited about the potential for sequencing, big data, and artificial intelligence to revolutionize the pace of drug discovery.

What I came to recognize is that biopharma doesn’t need more drug candidates — it has plenty of them sitting idly at the top of the drug development funnel. In fact, if we were to stop research today, there are as many as 10 drug candidates for every one drug that makes it to trial. As technological advancements make drug discovery ever more efficient, this pile-up is only going to get worse.

In order to bring treatments to patients faster, the most important bottleneck to fix is actually the one caused by the high costs and long durations of most trials.

How we’re breaking down the bottleneck

TrialSpark is decreasing the time and cost of a clinical trial, allowing a greater number of new treatments to be tested each year.

The first step towards this is recognizing that the clinical trial is a complex logistics problem, requiring a delicate orchestration of procedures, people, and parts defined by a research protocol.

We believe that a technology-first approach — marrying software and data across a single operational layer — can significantly decrease trial timelines. This is the heart of our solution. By adding automation and operational efficiency, we’re able to simplify the logistics and create a faster, more cost-effective trial process.

Technology isn’t the only solution, however. We understand that, at its core, drug development is a deeply human process. No drug is brought to market without a team of visionary doctors, selfless patient volunteers, and pioneering researchers working together toward a shared goal.

Through engagement and empowerment, we’re forging stronger connections between doctors, patients, and the greater biopharma community. We believe these relationships are the key to activating broader participation in trials.

Building a mission-first company

Our mission defines our roadmap and clarifies our purpose. We strive to bring new treatments to patients faster and more efficiently because each and every one of us has family members or friends whose lives are affected by disease.

This is why we are driving so tirelessly towards our mission. Our team knows that time is of the essence — not just because a drug loses up to $5M in net present value each day it remains unavailable — but because that single day can make all the difference to a patient waiting for a life-saving treatment.

However, a mission such as this can only be realized by a strong team of people, empowered to contribute their unique insights and ideas to help solve the problems we will face. We believe our success will be most influenced by the people we can attract to our cause and the values that we promote across our organization.

We believe the companies that stand the test of time do so because they put mission and purpose ahead of ego. They interrogate decisions based on first principles and understand that an ambitious, uncompromising roadmap can only be achieved through a sequence of deliberate and well-executed steps.

These companies understand that the accomplishments of yesteryear have little bearing on future success. They know that they’re only as great as their next hire, their next day, their next quarter, and their next year. This is the template to which our team aspires.

Let’s reimagine clinical trials

At the end of the day, we will judge our success not by financial gains, but by the impact we have on the lives of patients and how many new treatments we ultimately contribute to the world.

We are still in the early stages, but we’re so excited for what’s in store. If our values and mission speak to you, we welcome you to join us on this journey. Together, we can fundamentally change how we bring treatments to patients.


Reinventing Clinical Trials. Improving care for everyone.