ELITE 2021 Disrupter Kent Thoelke of PRA Health Sciences

Kent Thoelke

Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

PRA Health Sciences

Championing the Future of Clinical Research

Several years ago, Kent Thoelke pioneered a new vision for PRA Health Sciences—one that anticipated how digital technologies would disrupt clinical research—and foresaw the opportunities it would present for reducing inefficiencies and resolving challenges of the traditional site-based model. Since then, he has led the company’s transformation from a traditional CRO to an agile healthcare intelligence organization—one that uses data, technology, and a comprehensive deck of customized solutions to see the complete picture of healthcare research. He has also been vocal publicly in challenging the industry to embrace new patient-centric approaches in clinical research.

“Patients are rightfully expecting that healthcare be delivered more conveniently, but pharma is not listening,” Kent said in an opinion column. “Issues with patient recruitment and retention, diverse representation, and other challenges will slowly degrade recruitment one trial at a time and drive development costs to unsustainable heights. But there’s a way forward.”

Kent has been at the center of PRA’s strategy and execution, which relies on solutions designed to decentralize clinical trials and bring healthcare directly to patients through their personal devices, as well as advising biotech and pharma clients during their own transformations. He is a true champion of disruptive, digital health approaches who delivers his message on external stages by participating on industry panels with experts such as former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, interviewing on podcasts and in print media, and publishing white papers about the importance of this decentralization.

In one interview, he said, “The industry can use digital health approaches, like decentralized trials, to resolve some of the biggest challenges in clinical research. Improving clinical trials must be done to advance clinical development and, most importantly, save more lives.”

Kent believes that the move to patient-focused digital health technology is good science and good medicine. He realizes that increasing diversity in clinical research leads to more generalizable results and more accurate assessments of the safety and efficacy of investigational medical products. This ambitious and proactive vision for clinical research, is what inspires those who work side-by-side with Kent to change old paradigms and make the irreversible modernization of clinical research a global reality.


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