We are honored to announce the addition of our latest COTA team member, Miruna Sasu. Miruna has more than 20 years of experience at leading life science organizations such as Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Most recently, Miruna was serving as the head of Johnson & Johnson’s Clinical Trial Feasibility and Advanced Analytics team where she drove global adoption of integrated real-world data and innovation strategies across several therapeutic areas.
Miruna is an accomplished executive with a track record of success when it comes to driving broad-based digital innovation. Miruna brings deep experience in the utilization and scaling of emerging innovations to advance drug portfolios. She also has both a Ph.D. in biology and statistics, and a master’s in business administration.
With decades of in-house life science experience, Miruna’s guidance and collaboration will prove invaluable to COTA clients that are looking to drive innovation and accelerate availability of much-needed cancer drugs and therapies through the adoption and at-scale use of real-world data.
In her new role as Chief Strategy Officer, Life Sciences, Miruna will play a critical role in setting the strategy and executing the solutions delivery to meet critical needs in partnership with life science companies to drive efficient and optimal drug development.
Learn more about COTA’s latest leadership hire, Miruna Sasu:
What excites you most about joining COTA?
I’ve spent my career focused on bringing impactful medicines to patients to achieve better outcomes and improve quality of life. I believe analyzing real-world patient data can help to bring faster and better treatment to those in need, so developing this space is critically important and urgent. COTA is an emerging leader in the real-world data solutions space. I’m excited to be joining such a dynamic company that is changing the paradigm by connecting deep clinical expertise with gold-standard data quality.
Where do you see the most near-term promise for oncology real-world data?
I believe real-world data can be utilized in many domains in life science and beyond. The first frontier has already been breached, where health authorities have started trusting and accepting and viewing real-world evidence for drug development. Much of this has been made possible by companies like COTA, which standardize and curate real-world data to a high standard that, when analyzed robustly, can be acceptable as evidence.
The next step will be the adoption of this approach at scale through control and comparator arms. The utility of ongoing licensed real-world data to answer other pertinent questions in drug discovery and health economics will also be imminent as life science companies realize the value and time savings this will achieve. I believe, in the near future, many hypotheses and questions about patient treatment paradigms will be able to be answered through real-world data.
Name one thing that is unique about your leadership style?
First, I love working in teams and tend to surround myself with people who can bring unique qualities and diverse perspectives.
One unique feature of my style is that I am always interested in getting to solutions quickly and efficiently within short and workable timeframes. I believe there is a time and place for brainstorming, assessing the landscape, setting a robust strategy based on meaningful goals and value, and then quickly driving decisions and moving ahead to actualizing a product or solution.
What is one lesson learned from the pandemic that you plan to carry through to your life and work moving forward?
I’ve learned that when necessity strikes, humanity can do amazing things. We are starting to unleash a digital and data revolution in medicine as a result of the pandemic and are seeing virtual medicine, data-driven insights and decisions, and the growth of new, digital ways to treat patients.
In my personal life, I’ve always been a tech geek, even to the extent that my home was built in the 1700’s but it is completely digitally connected and captures thousands of data points that I can later analyze to my heart’s content (i.e., after repainting the windows, how much heating fuel did we utilize?). I believe the world will continue to move in this direction, which will make our lives easier and hopefully bring efficiencies and innovation. This lesson also very much validates my decision to join COTA.
We know you believe strongly in the value of mentoring. Can you tell us about a mentor or mentee that changed the way you work and how so?
My passion for mentorship is unparalleled, as I have had the benefit of so many wonderful friends, mentors, and sponsors. My relationship with mentoring started very early in childhood, through my grandmother. The first part of my childhood was spent in Bucharest, Romania. At the time, the role of young women was very different than my grandmother’s vision for me. She would tell me I can change the world, if I can dream it, work hard, and be able to enlist great people to follow my vision. I will forever carry this message with me.
Later in my career within life science, I’ve benefited from a few incredible mentors who have helped me through decisions, pushed me to my limits, and showed me how my grandmother’s words could live on to help me achieve amazing things. One experience I would like to highlight was in my role as Head of Digital Health and Innovation, where my mentors and I pushed from “closing our eyes and dreaming about the next-generation solution set” to actualizing those dreams into what I am proud to say developed into an incredible enterprise ecosystem of real-world data and technology.
To this day, I still utilize many of the tools and soft skills I built during that time, and I will continue to be grateful for that experience and the mentors, friends, and support group that made it possible.
And lastly, I hope to help others find the confidence, strength, and style by which to lead and improve our world, with a deep focus on healthcare and patient solutions.