Published on December 08, 2020

Industry veterans from leading life sciences companies including Johnson & Johnson, Biogen, and Medtronic, will support the Company’s vision to advance the future of clinical research 

Hoboken, New Jersey: December 8, 2020: Castor, a leading provider of clinical trial technology that automates the research process, today announced the expansion of its independent Advisory Board. 

Castor is a leading cloud-based clinical data platform that simplifies the clinical trial process, from recruitment to analysis, for researchers globally. It’s used by more than 65,000 users across academia and commercial research, powering more than 4,000 studies with more than 2,200,000 enrolled patients across 90 countries. 204 medical device, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs) are using Castor’s platform.

Over the past year, Castor’s Advisory Board has been instrumental in helping the company navigate the pandemic and support COVID-19 research around the world. This includes the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial. The Advisory Board also played a key role during the development and launch of the company’s new remote recruitment, screening, and consent solution, Castor eConsent

Castor has continuously looked for additional industry veterans to expand the Advisory Board and have been fortunate to secure Sarah F. Fisher, Cherié L. Butts, PhD, and Janine Lane. These individuals bring tremendous expertise across commercial life sciences research and innovation, currently holding leadership positions at Johnson & Johnson, Biogen, and Medtronic. They will provide invaluable guidance to help the company achieve its vision to make the world’s research data reusable, enabling AI-driven clinical trials, and ultimately creating a future in which they maximize the impact of data through reuse

On welcoming the members, Castor CEO Derk Arts, MD, PhD, said: “With COVID-19 propelling decentralized trials due to necessity, we need to continue this momentum beyond the pandemic and work together as an industry to advance clinical trial technology and practices. With our expanded Advisory Board and continuous innovation in our technology, Castor is ready to power global decentralized and hybrid clinical trials for years to come.”

Cherie Butts, PhD Cherié L. Butts, PhD, Medical Director and Head of Clinical Assessments at Biogen and newly appointed Castor Advisory Board member, commented: “I am excited to serve on Castor’s Advisory Board and work with the team on better ways to leverage academic and industry research. Castor’s decentralized trial technology makes it easier for patients to participate in clinical trials, and to remain engaged. Furthermore, Castor’s vision for machine readable, reusable research data across studies will help ensure all captured patient data has maximum impact.”

The new Advisory Board members include:

  • Sarah F. Fisher, MBA, Global Health Financing Lead at Johnson & Johnson
  • Cherié L. Butts, PhD, Medical Director and Head of Clinical Assessments – Digital & Quantitative Medicine at Biogen
  • Janine Lane, Senior Director of Medical Affairs at Medtronic

Sarah, Cherié, and Janine will join the following current Advisory Board members:

  • Craig Lipset, MBA, Former Head of Clinical Innovation at Pfizer, and Advisor/Board Member at various life sciences startups 
  • Niels van Royen, MD, PhD, Head of the Cardiology Department at Radboud University Medical Center
  • Thomas Wurdinger, PhD, Director of the Neuro-Oncology Research Group and Professor at the Amsterdam UMC Cancer Center; Founder of thromboDx (acquired by Illumina) 

 For full biographies please see below.

About Castor 

Based in the United States and The Netherlands, Castor is an international health-tech company founded by CEO Derk Arts, MD, PhD. Their cloud-based clinical data platform simplifies the clinical trial process, from recruitment to analysis, for researchers worldwide.

More than 65,000 researchers across 90 countries are using Castor to supercharge their research. Castor’s platform has supported more than 4,000 commercial and academic studies that cover a broad range of therapeutic areas including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rare diseases, infectious diseases, and oncology. Researchers on the platform generate vast amounts of data from traditional and remote trials, and Castor recently reached milestones of 250,000,000 data points and 2,200,000 enrolled patients. Castor’s goal is to make the world’s research data reusable, enabling AI-driven clinical trials, and ultimately creating a future in which they maximize the impact of data through reuse.

In 2020, Castor raised a $12M Series A from Two Sigma Ventures with participation from Hambrecht Ducera Growth Ventures and existing investor INKEF Capital. Castor previously raised a $6.25M seed round from INKEF Capital in 2018.

Castor Advisory Board 

Sarah F. Fisher, MBA

Sarah F. Fisher is the Global Health Financing Lead at Johnson & Johnson.  She has 18 years of experience in leading new business development efforts across a breadth of healthcare areas in global markets including: MedTech (class III, novel, PMA), Drug/Device combination technologies and services, Informatics and Digital, Disease Prevention and Interception, Supply Chain and Operations, Real World Data Platforms, Strategic Partnerships, Public Health, and Venture Diligence.

Sarah serves as venture partner to select investors, an advisory board member to select ventures, and as the healthcare subgroup lead for the International Venture Club based in the EU. She was awarded the first-ever Corporate Entrepreneur accolade by Corporate Entrepreneurs, LLC, and was named a Global Corporate Venturing Rising Star in 2016.

Sarah has a Masters of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship from Babson College in Wellesley, MA and a post -graduate diploma in Global Business from the University of Oxford in Oxford, UK.

Cherié L. Butts, PhD

Cherié L. Butts is the Medical Director and Head of Clinical Assessments – Digital & Quantitative Medicine at Biogen. She obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees from The Johns Hopkins University, a doctorate from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. She continued research at the US Food & Drug Administration, taking on additional responsibilities of evaluating drug and biologics applications.  At Biogen, she is responsible for use of novel clinical measurement tools as a mechanism for better understanding disease biology, reducing trial burden, and ensuring trials better represent those afflicted with disease. 

Cherié is passionate about connecting the work in academia, government, and industry to advance biomedical research and works with scientific professional societies and related organizations to help scientists and clinicians learn about the interconnectedness of scientific contributions across these sectors – at and away from the bench or clinic. She currently serves on the Leadership Board of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Board of Directors of Keystone Symposia; Vice Chair on the Board of Trustees at Salem State University; Council of the Society of Leukocyte Biology; and is Adjunct Professor at University of Maryland.   

Janine Lane 

Janine Lane is the Senior Director of Medical Affairs at Medtronic with her current focus being interventional cardiology and hypertension. In this global role she and her team are responsible for scientific and clinical communication for both Medtronic sponsored and physician initiated clinical studies, engagement with a broad array of physicians and institutions to encourage informed clinical decision making leveraging existing data.

With experience in the clinical world for over 35 years and at Medtronic for almost 30 years, Janine has seen how the practice of medicine can be transformed with access to credible data with many patient lives changed in positive ways. She has also experienced the impact of the absence of evidence in a timely fashion leading to confusion, waste and poor outcomes.

Janine started her clinical and corporate career in Australia before moving to the United States in 1996 where she worked closely on FDA interactions, including panel meetings, influencing clinical trial design and data acquisition approaches for Medtronic. Janine has also partnered with an array of thought leaders in the field of interventional cardiology and more recently the management of hypertension.

Craig Lipset, MBA

Craig Lipset is a recognized leader at the forefront of innovation in clinical research and medicine development. He is an advisor to technology and biopharmaceutical companies, leading universities, and the venture community, bringing vision and driving action at the intersection of research, digital solutions, and patient engagement. 

Craig was the Head of Clinical Innovation and Venture Partner at Pfizer, on the founding Operations Committee for TransCelerate Biopharma, and on the founding management teams for two successful startup ventures (Perceptive Informatics and Adnexus Therapeutics). During that time, Craig designed and launched multiple industry firsts. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research, the MedStar Health Research Institute, and the People-Centered Research Foundation (the central office for PCORnet), as well as on the Editorial Board for Therapeutic Innovation & Regulatory Science.

Niels van Royen, MD, PhD

Niels van Royen studied medicine at the University of Amsterdam and received his doctorate degree in 1998. In 2003 he obtained – with honors – his PhD on research in collateral artery. The research was conducted in collaboration with the Max-Planck Institute in Bad Nauheim and the University of Freiburg. 

Niels specialized in Cardiology in AMC Amsterdam (2003-2008). In 2010 he started as a cardiologist at the VU Medical Center. In 2012 he was appointed as Professor of Intervention Cardiology. Here he has set up translational research lines focusing on repair in ischemic heart diseases.

Thomas Wurdinger, PhD

Thomas Wurdinger studied molecular biology at VU University in Amsterdam and performed his PhD at Utrecht University. After his postdoc period at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital he now holds a position as Director of the Neuro-Oncology Research Group and Professor at the Amsterdam UMC Cancer Center. 

Thomas’ mission is to eliminate late-stage cancers, including brain cancer. His passion for research goes hand in hand with an ambition for entrepreneurship applied to a field with societal importance, e.g. by capturing sequencing data and designing deep learning algorithms to detect cancer from a tube of blood. He strives to translate academic research into clinical applications. This is why he founded two biotech companies, with thromboDx focusing on blood platelet-based diagnostics (acquired by Illumina), and the second being Exbiome BV, which sets out to use microRNAs for diagnostic purposes. Thomas was also one of the first directors of research at GRAIL Inc, a unicorn company aiming to detect cancer early when it can be cured. He is a recipient of the Galenus Research Award and several ERC grants.

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