For 35 years, Cytel’s scientific rigor and operational excellence have enabled biotech and pharmaceutical companies to navigate uncertainty, prove value, and make evidence-based decisions with confidence.
To celebrate this milestone, we invited Cytel’s Co-Founders, Nitin Patel and Cyrus Mehta, and CEO, Joshua Schultz, to offer their reflections on Cytel’s beginnings, its innovations in technology and statistical strategy over nearly four decades, and predictions for the future of the industry.
“It all began from the research that Cyrus and I were conducting,” notes Nitin Patel in his interview, discussing the founding of Cytel, “and we came across problems that were of common interest to both of us. He was very interested in applications and biostatistics, and I really enjoy working on algorithms. Together, we managed to get funding and grants that enabled us to begin the production of our first product at Cytel.” Reflecting on certain important yet unsolved statistical problems posed by Marvin Zelen, who was then the chair of the biostatistics department at Harvard, Nitin continues, “We realized that solving these problems would require constructing algorithms that combined ideas from the fields of statistics and scientific computing, with optimization methods we had learned in operations research. That is what got us started on the journey of building Cytel.”
Cyrus Mehta, considering the past few decades of statistical strategy innovation, describes among other things what prompted the development of East®, Cytel’s flagship product: “group sequential problems had a larger impact on the business of the sponsoring organization, because with group sequential design you could get your products to the market faster with fewer patients. . . . These group sequential methods evolved further into adaptive methods. Again, we sensed this as an opportunity for Cytel, and our East software evolved further into providing solutions not just for group sequential designs, but for adaptive group sequential designs.”
And Cytel’s influence has continued to shape this rapidly evolving industry. “The number one impact that Cytel has had is the creation, championing, and eventual widespread adoption of adaptive designs,” notes Joshua Schultz in his interview on the transformation of Cytel. “Thirty-five years ago, they were an oddity and largely theoretical – now, our whole industry is more efficient and effective because of them.” Offering a glimpse into the future of the business, he also offers his perspective on what the industry will look like in the next decades and what role Cytel will play: “I believe [the industry] will be in many ways unrecognizable and much better. We are at the forefront of some profound changes that I believe will greatly impact the way that trials get designed and executed, with a commensurate improvement in efficiency and effectiveness that our industry desperately needs. . . . If you fast forward ten years and look at what Cytel is doing, it will look dramatically different . . . But one thing that will not change is our focus on solving tough problems, leveraging quantitative tools by the brightest folks in the industry.”
Click below to read the full interview series in our complimentary ebook, Celebrating 35 Years of Innovation and Impact: A Cytel Interview Series:
Read more from Perspectives on Enquiry and Evidence:
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