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A Year in Review with Mike Doyle


In this year-end episode of Real World Talk, host Emily Di Capua talks to COTA President and CEO Mike Doyle. Mike describes how COTA has helped the FDA in its quest to gather data on COVID-19. COTA had access to data from 3,000 COVID-positive in-patients being treated at New Jersey-based partner Hackensack Meridian Health.


  • [00:28] Introduction — Emily Di Capua introduces Mike Doyle, COTA’s President and CEO.
  • [01:39] Working with FDA — Mike explains that before COVID-19, COTA worked with the FDA on various breast cancer studies.
  • [02:03] Collecting COVID data — When COTA’s partner Hackensack Meridian Health found itself with 3,000 COVID-positive patients, it collected data on all of them, which COTA used to help the FDA.
  • [03:04] Reverse course — Alongside other organizations, COTA was able to provide the FDA with data that convinced the agency to reverse its guidance and stop recommending hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment.
  • [03:24] Faster, better — COTA has continued to work with the FDA and was invited to join the Reagan-Udall Foundation, an accelerator studying other potential COVID treatments.
  • [04:07] Cancer questions — It’s become clear that COVID-19 needs to be factored into cancer trials, so COTA expanded its work with the FDA to incorporate COVID-19 patients into oncology clinical studies.
  • [05:45] Dream team — A commercial partnership with Varian Medical Systems turned into Varian offering to buy COTA. Mike says the company doesn’t want that right now. Instead, Varian will provide $20 million of non-dilutive capital, with the option to buy COTA in July 2022.
  • [07:18] A+ Series D — COTA completed its Series D funding round in 2020, raising around $14.5 million.
  • [10:24] Dr. Kalman on board— COTA worked on real world data tools with Dr. Leonard Kalman at the Miami Cancer Institute. Parent company Baptist Health was so impressed that it invested in the Series D Round, and Dr. Kalman will join the COTA board.
  • [11:24] Providing for providers — Mike believes that one of COTA’s greatest strengths in its partnership with Varian and beyond lies in guiding medical staff on their point of care data.
  • [12:25] Adding structure — Much of the data entered into the electronic health record at point of care is unstructured, which limits its potential uses. COTA can help with that.
  • [14:13] What’s next — In 2021, Mike is looking forward to seeing COTA data being used in the approval processes for new cancer regimens, and sharing the company’s capabilities with the public.

Key Points

  • COTA doubled down on its work with the FDA to combat COVID. Gathering and analyzing data on COVID-19 has been a vital weapon in the battle against the pandemic. Through its work with the FDA on breast cancer studies, COTA was able to help the agency study potential COVID-19 treatments. In particular, data from COTA contributed to the FDA’s decision to reverse its guidance on hydroxychloroquine and stop recommending it as a treatment. COTA is also working with the FDA on plans to include COVID patients in clinical cancer studies.
  • A commercial partnership with Varian Medical Systems leads to new opportunities. In 2020, COTA teamed up with Varian Medical Systems, a Palo Alto-based company making oncology treatments and software. The partnership went so well that Varian offered to become the lead investor in COTA’s Series D round, and then to buy the company outright. Mike explained that COTA has more work to do on its own before it sells to another company. But Varian — which is on track to be bought by Siemens in March or April 2021 — will invest $20 million of non-dilutive capital, with the option to buy COTA in July 2022.
  • Improving point of care data means more — and better — data for analysis. Widespread electronic health records should theoretically be a goldmine for data. But Mike estimates that around 70% to 75% of the data recorded at point of care goes into unstructured fields: for example, notes written by medical staff. COTA aims to help medical providers improve their understanding and use of structured data at point of care, which will make it easier to analyze and search.