June 22, 2022
Top pharmaceutical research organization IQVIA has appointed Christina Mack, PhD, alumna and adjunct associate professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, as chief scientific officer (CSO) for the company’s Real World Solutions (RWS) arm. She replaces Nancy Dreyer, PhD ’79, adjunct professor of epidemiology, who is retiring after nearly 20 years with the company.
The many projects the pair worked on together include an avian influenza registry, injury surveillance programs for elite sports, innovation around the use of real-world evidence and IQVIA’s collaboration with the National Basketball Association to restart the 2019 season safely in a controlled environment or “bubble.”
This new role will employ Mack’s long experience as a computer science engineer and epidemiologist to use data to improve patient outcomes. She will direct the design and implementation of studies that use strong methods and technology to improve decision-making and clinical practices.
“Christina was one of the first students I mentored after joining the department of epidemiology at UNC in 2008 to lead the pharmacoepidemiology program,” said Til Stürmer, MD, PhD, Nancy A. Dreyer Distinguished Professor and epidemiology chair at the Gillings School. “Based on her training in computer science engineering and her experience working with real-world data, she quickly identified a thesis topic implementing a method to improve the validity of real-world evidence for oncologic treatments. I am not amazed that IQVIA selected Christina for this leadership position and know she will quickly fill the big shoes left by Nancy Dreyer.”
Successive leadership positions at IQVIA helped prepare Mack for the job. As vice president of epidemiology and clinical evaluation, she led efforts that contributed to experts’ understanding of infectious disease, medical devices, sports injuries, and decision making based on high quality, real world evidence. One major accomplishment was a successful effort to adapt research methods originally designed to investigate avian influenza for the COVID-19 pandemic, building these into a large scientific, technical and research effort that supported and advised the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games, the NBA “Bubble” and 2020–2022 seasons, the National Football League’s 2020-2021 seasons, and global public health and regulatory agencies.
The protocols contributed to a better understanding of diagnosis and transmission, leading to publications in top journals including the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Now more than ever, the ability to harness the power of data to glean insights about patient and population health is critical,” said Mack. “I’m thrilled to be taking on the CSO role to continue to drive innovation in this space and make an impact as science and technology evolve. Nancy has made an incredible impact in our field as a scientist and mentor, and her passion for science will continue in the many individuals (including Tar Heels!) who she has mentored throughout the process.”
As well as serving as an adjunct associate professor at UNC Gillings and on the advisory board of UNC’s Carolina Health Informatics Program, Mack earned two degrees from the School: a Master of Science in Public Health (2010) and a Doctor of Philosophy degree (2013), both from the Department of Epidemiology. Boasting a diverse skill set, she also holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Her personal and professional commitments include service on the board of the UNC Carolina Informatics Program, the Duke-Margolis RWE Collaborative Advisory Group, the ISPE Real World Evidence task force and as co-chair of the Medical Device Epidemiology Network Scientific Oversight Committee.
Quintiles was founded by Dennis Gillings, PhD, CBE, in 1982 to continue consulting work he began as a professor in the UNC Gillings Department of Biostatistics — contributing statistical expertise to the design and analysis of clinical trials ensuring the safety and efficacy of medical interventions. Renamed IQVIA after a 2016 merger with IMS Health, the organization serves the life sciences industry, providing advanced analytics, technology solutions and clinical research services. Working with health care and pharmaceutical companies, it leverages data and technology to provide insights to create innovative treatments and improve health care while preserving patient privacy.
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