Continuing innovation against a backdrop of stability
After three decades at the helm, Professor Adam Cohen has stepped down as CHDR's CEO and is succeeded by a new Board of Directors consisting of Professor Koos Burggraaf, Dr Geert Jan Groeneveld, and Dr Pierre Peeters. ‘We will continue to use the tried-and-true strategy that has brought us so much growth and success over the past three decades,’ says Burggraaf.
‘For the past 30 years, CHDR has been a highly stable organisation in a world dominated by change,’ says Cohen. ‘While nearly everyone else was experiencing mergers, takeovers, and changes in management, we remained relatively stable. That’s why it’s only fitting that we’ll have a smooth transition in CHDR’s management structure; although it’s a completely new board, all three members have been at CHDR for many years.’
‘All three of us have been increasingly involved in both the day-to-day management and the strategic planning at CHDR during the past decade,’ adds Burggraaf, the new CEO at CHDR. ‘So, for the Board and our colleagues, there won't be many changes, and we’ll be able to continue our strategy of pursuing innovation.’
In many ways, this new management structure at CHDR formalises the informal structure that has been in place for more than ten years. And it’s the logical next step, considering the organisation’s growth, which has been particularly strong since 2012. ‘In addition to performing more studies than ever before, and employing more people,’ says Peeters, ‘the complexity of our operations and our data flow have also increased.’
‘We expect this trend to continue,’ adds Groeneveld, ‘particularly with the development of novel technologies and methods such as wearable devices and other data-rich applications. By establishing a Board, we can work together to make the best decisions for our organisation, our sponsors, and other stakeholders.’
‘We’ve known each other for years,’ says Burggraaf, ‘and I think our individual skills and personalities are highly complementary. Together, we’ll continue to foster the culture of openness and mutual trust that has been a hallmark at CHDR since the beginning.’
The French author Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, ‘Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose,’ which is often translated as, ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’
With this in mind, at first glance it may seem like a bit of a paradox, talking about stability on one hand and innovation on the other. ‘It's actually our focus on science and our commitment to research that provide the stability,’ says Cohen. ‘Our NeuroCart® is a good example. I used an early version of this test battery during my PhD thesis, and although it’s been repeatedly adapted and upgraded over the years since then, its basic features and functions have remained the same.’
Burggraaf agrees. ‘Yes, it's science, but we are also very much tuned into the needs of our sponsors and the changing field of drug development. We like to innovate, but we always listen closely to our sponsors and our collaborators. What questions drive them, and what problems keep them up at night? And then we come up with our own solutions.
‘CHDR will continue to operate in the unique niche ‒ innovative, data-rich, early clinical drug development ‒ that we’ve occupied for more than three decades,’ continues Burggraaf. Thanks to Adam's leadership and the foundation he created, we are now in a very strong position as an independent, not-for-profit foundation; we have no shareholders, no debt, and the means to finance independent research alongside projects sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. At CHDR, everything we do is dedicated to developing cutting-edge products and methods in a range of fields, including pharmacology, image-guided surgery, biomarkers, and much more. We also invest heavily in education, including Master’s and PhD students, clinical pharmacologists-in-training, and our staff members. Our goal is to continue developing novel, innovative methods for studying how compounds affect physiology and pathophysiology in both healthy subjects and patients. In a nutshell, at CHDR we’ll continue doing what we love ‒ serving the medical and scientific communities in order to improve quality of life for patients everywhere.’