Certara Oss develops mathematical models and scenarios for the testing and use of medication for third parties, mainly pharmaceutical companies. Based on data provided by customers, computer models are developed and applied by a team of pharmacists, biomedics, mathematicians and engineers, directed by Rik de Greef.
De Greef is Senior Vice President EU of Certara, an international company with 850 employees worldwide and offices in the US, Asia, Australia and Europe. The division in Oss has its roots in the former Organon, where De Greef started in 1998. When Organon’s parent company, MSD, decided to close its R&D department in Oss in 2014, nine employees, led by De Greef and his colleague Thomas Kerbusch, chose to continue as a team. De Greef: “We were a fairly unique group within MSD. To ensure the continuation of our activities, we sought cooperation with Quantitative Solutions in Breda. Eventually we came under the wings of Certara. In Oss we now work with seventeen people and focus on consultancy for pharmaceutical companies.”
De Greef talks about the clinical trials he supports with his team, for example for the use of medication in children. “An important part of our work is the translation of the effects of medication in adults to children. Usually medication is developed for adults. Only fairly recently more attention has been paid to the fact that doses for adults are not always suitable for children. But research in children is difficult, which is why we like to work with models in this group. For example, we compare the data of adults with those of teenagers, and extrapolate the results to younger children. It leads to a much more precise dosage than previously possible. For ethical reasons and also in order to keep costs under control, there is an increasing demand for this.” The models and simulations are also in the spotlight for other reasons. De Greef mentions a few of them. “The translation of animal tests to humans, and – importantly – the clinical practice of medication use. How strong is the medication adherence? When is the best time to take a medication? Those kinds of questions. There is a lot of focus on that. We can process more and more data in our models, making them increasingly robust. But ultimately the challenge for us lies in the strategic application: enabling key decisions during the development process of a medication, its registration and its use in practice. De Greef emphasises that these are computer models for which the data are supplied by the customers. “We do not generate data, we help companies analyse their data.”
For De Greef, this research is paramount; that is where his heart lies. Much of his time, however, is absorbed by the organisational challenges associated with Certara’s growth. The fact that Certara is located at Pivot Park is no coincidence. “We were already situated here, and most of the people who work here also live in this area. So we saw no reason to leave,” says De Greef. “On the contrary, the facilities are excellent and we can grow here.” De Greef mentions Health Economics and Real World Data as growth areas for Certara. “Our customers are everywhere. Here at Pivot Park, but also elsewhere, in Europe and the United States. Oss turns out to be surprisingly central.”