Koneksa Developer Leads Women Who Code NYC

By Brenda Deverell Cortez, Front-End Developer at Koneksa:

As one of the directors of the Women Who Code (WWCode) NYC network since the fall of 2014, I have seen how our network has changed and grown, something we have only been able to accomplish through the effort of our many directors, leads, hosts, speakers, workshop leads, and volunteers.

At our annual celebration recently, we not only celebrated our local membership – more than 12,000 members! - but took time to highlight their successes. Our incredible speakers shared stories of women at all stages of their careers – from those who are studying or just starting to work in technology, to determined entrepreneurs and those in senior positions.

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Women Who Code is a global organization dedicated to inspiring women to succeed in technical careers. At our events, we share our stories, knowledge, and insights, in hope of inspiring those interested in learning from our experiences. As a mother of two little ones working in the tech sector, I don’t have much free time, but I volunteer to WWCode because I believe its work is important.

Thanks to a long array of hosts this year, such as AWS Loft, co-workers, workshop leaders, volunteers, and so many others, we have been able to organize workshops, talks, panels, hack nights, and many other events for our community to make it more inclusive and welcoming to all. In the new year, WWCode will continue to work with all our current supporters, in addition to establishing new partnerships with others interested in giving back to our community, including Koneksa Health, who will be a New York City Women Who Code host in 2019!

Koneksa Announces New Hires

Koneksa is proud to announce the recent hires of Chengrui Huang, Ph.D., senior statistician; George Pappas, technology support specialist; and Juanita Yim, product manager. We'd like to introduce them to you and have them share a little about themselves.

As a senior statistician at Koneksa, Chengrui Huang partners with clients to define and execute statistical analysis plans. In addition, she provides scientific leadership to the clinical sales and R&D teams. Chengrui most recently served as a statistician at Google. Previously, she completed her post-doctorate work in genetic epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University, and received her PhD in statistics from Stony Brook University. She is excited to join Koneksa to use her expertise in statistical rigor and insight to make a positive impact on clinical research.

George Pappas brings broad IT experience, including in nonprofit and government roles, to his role as a technology support specialist at Koneksa. He is responsible for supporting all of the devices, sensors, and studies conducted through Koneksa’s proprietary platform. George also manages Koneksa’s website, among other IT projects. His BS is from UC Berkeley, and he enjoys being part of the startup ethos at Koneksa.

As a product manager, Juanita Yim is responsible for articulating the requirements of Koneksa’s software and ensuring its functionality. She has held roles at a variety of health-tech companies, after earning degrees in Industrial & Operations Engineering and Psychology from the University of Michigan. She enjoys looking for elegant solutions to problems and working with enthusiastic teammates throughout Koneksa.

The Latest on the FDA’s Push to Use Mobile Tech to Transform Clinical Trials

The Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) was created by the U.S. FDA in 2007 with Duke University to solve “a crisis for U.S. clinical research”: Studies took too long to start, not enough patients or investigators were participating, and costs were going up. Today, more than 80 organizations are part of the CTTI, representing government, industry, patient, physician and academia.

Recently, the CTTI unveiled recommendations for the use of mobile technology to improve the quality and efficiency of trials. In mid-July we met at the FDA’s offices in Maryland to discuss them, sharing best practices for how to choose the best technologies, design a protocol, and then capture, manage, and prepare data for the FDA’s review.

I found the meeting incredibly refreshing, because it reinforced the FDA’s position of encouraging innovation from all stakeholders: patients, the pharma industry and its technology partners, as well as academia.

The FDA is proactively engaging industry to find new and better ways to capture functional measurements that matter more to patients. I hear this commitment regularly in the discussions that our partners have with the agency, and I heard it again here.  

The project did a great job of balancing both the strategic and mundane, yet important aspects of how mobile technologies can appropriately improve drug development. It’s exciting to consider the ways in which technology can support more patient centric measures and faster efficacy read-outs. At the same time, the data management, infrastructure and validation challenges presented by these tools must be dealt with in way that continues to improve the integrity of the clinical trial process.

The most important message – one I want to help spread – came from Jennifer Goldsack, who helped open the meeting. You can see one of her slides below. 

She reminded us that our job is to  show as much courage as the patients in these studies do. They’re bravely taking chances in search of medical breakthroughs. We have no excuse not to do the same.

By Chris Benko, CEO, Koneksa Health

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