New Real World Evidence leader in Asia/Pacific returns to Parexel with lessons learned from China adventure

3 min

pxl-sheng-feng-headshot-400x400.jpgSheng Feng re-joined Parexel Jan. 3 as Head, Real World Evidence (RWE) – Asia/Pacific, reporting to Stephen Pyke, Chief Digital and Data Officer and Executive Vice President, Clinical Data and Digital Services. Sheng previously was with Parexel from July 2019 to March 2021 as Head of Real World Data (RWD), Asia/Pacific. Based in Singapore, Sheng brings more than 18 years’ experience in clinical and medical data analysis, with a focus in precision medicine and RWD.

What is your background in healthcare and clinical research?

I am a statistician and geneticist by training. My background encompasses clinical and medical data analysis with a focus on precision medicine and RWD/E. I began my career as an Assistant Professor at Duke University. Later, I joined Biogen focusing on RWD/E in Alzheimer’s Disease to help with clinical trial design. From Biogen I moved to AbbVie, where I helped key leaders use data to make critical decisions. In 2019 I joined Parexel, to lead the RWD function in Asia/Pacific and two years later, I started my China adventure, became the Chief Data Scientist at LinkDoc, a top data and tech company in China. Most recently I was President of LinkDoc Real World Evidence Research Institute. Now I am back at Parexel, once again leading the RWE function in Asia/Pacific.    

What inspired you to choose a career in clinical research? Why did you decide to come back to Parexel?

I am inspired by clinical data, the science behind it and the medical doctors and scientists who ask critical questions. I enjoyed the journey of how value is created using data to explain medical evidence and translate that into an actionable research plan.

The Asia/Pacific has changed significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parexel’s global capability in RWD and RWE and desire for growth in the Asia/Pacific region have positioned us strongly to capture new opportunities that will bring more new business and advance our expertise in the region. I’m excited to lead this business.

At Parexel, we do everything With HeartTM. What does this mean to you and how do you plan to model this in your role?

I am scientific and technical, so the way I can best contribute is to help scientists and medical doctors design RWD and RWE studies that center on the patients. That’s how I think about With Heart. For example, we might create a QR code as part of a patient survey to understand their concerns before the study starts or we could leverage cell phone apps to collect data from patients, saving them a trip to the hospital. Most importantly, we work to help Principal Investigators think about patients first.   

What are the biggest areas of opportunity for Parexel to use RWE, particularly in Asia?

Most customers want to bring their drugs and medical devices, which are developed and approved in United States or Europe, to the Asia/Pacific region. Previously Asia/Pacific regional regulatory agencies required confirmative trials or other bridging studies to show that products are safe and effective. Now, RWD and RWE may be used to replace those difficult and costly studies, enabling Parexel to leverage its global expertise along with local knowledge and networks. 

Other important areas include label expansion, post-approval commitment studies, clinical trial patient enrollment, pharmacoepidemiology research, external control arms, digital therapies and more.

What are your top three priorities in the near term?

In the near term, I want to help Parexel leverage opportunities to advance treatments in China using RWE on Hainan Island, known as “RWE Heaven.” This process allows for a shorter approval process in China, getting medicines to patients faster. We will also look at how to best use local suppliers to create low-cost delivery partnerships, and also ensure there is a strong flow of innovative technology into the region.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

I’m looking forward to helping Parexel become a well-recognized and respected leader in RWD and RWE in Asia/Pacific.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

In my spare time I’m a “tiger father” and training my son, who is in ninth grade, to be a data scientist.

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