How Debiopharm’s digital transformation journey is ushering in a new era for drug development and clinical trials

Rene Van Den Bersselaar, Debiopharm’s Global Head of IT & CIO, explains how the biotech firm is embracing the future of pharma with a digital transformation journey that is ushering in a new era for drug development and clinical trials.

Future proofing pharma

Debiopharm is focused on the development of innovative prescription medicines in the areas of oncology, infectious diseases and orphan drugs.

Van Den Bersselaar joined Debiopharm in 2017 to re-define the IT strategy at Group level and establish a new application and infrastructure architecture landscape with a focus on R&D, clinical trial operations, manufacturing and finance.

“When I took on the role, we were still very much a siloed project and Excel driven organisation and not ready to scale or to automate and digitalise our processes,” recalls the CIO.

“My first objective was to build a stable and reliable Infrastructure foundation with a flawless internet and cybersecurity architecture to support a renewed IT organisation, establishing capabilities for data management, CSV, analytics, managed services and an eLibrary portal.”

Debiopharm is R&D and clinical operation.


Debiopharm is R&D and clinical operations driven. “Our business model is that we license in molecules to our pipeline, and conduct research from pre-clinical studies, all the way up to clinical phase I and II,” explains Van Den Bersselaar.

“We work a lot with external CROs (Clinical Research Organisations) worldwide which necessitates data exchange and digital collaboration. During the last five years my team’s efforts have been focused on meeting those requirements to fully enable and digitise the organisation.”

Before the global pandemic set in, Debiopharm was fortunate to have finalised the implementation of Microsoft 365 with Office 365, SharePoint and Teams relatively seamlessly.

“This proved to be a great experience for us and it also helped drive the adoption of other new tools,” recalls Debiopharm’s IT leader.

Next up was the implementation of Dotmatics, a bioinformatics and ELN platform for Debiopharm’s research labs and precision medicine (or Translational Medicine) group. Requiring a secure home for the increasing levels of data being generated and shared, the implementation of the Azure Cloud data warehouse was another natural step.

Partnering for success

Debiopharm is working with vendors for a tried and tested, out of the box, but configurable, approach to digital transformation. Alongside managing its migration to the Azure cloud with OSB and data harmonisation via BC Platforms, the biotech firm originally partnered with Dotmatics in 2017.

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