GlaxoSmithKline taps former Walmart CIO for new position focusing on data analytics

GlaxoSmithKline HQ
One of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies has created a new position devoted to technology and analytics.
Karenann Terrell

One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers has hired the former CIO at Walmart to take on a newly created position that will focus specifically on the company’s digital strategy, including the use of data analytics to improve drug development.

On Tuesday, London-based GlaxoSmithKline announced the appointment of Karenann Terrell as chief digital and technology officer. Terrell will begin in September, taking over for Daniel Lebeau, the company’s current CIO, according to The Wall Street Journal. The hire is part of the company's broader overhaul to research and development. 

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The pharmaceutical giant indicated Terrell “will be responsible for developing GSK’s digital, data and analytics strategy,” with an emphasis on using new technology to speed drug development and improve clinical trials.

Terrell told the WSJ her initial priorities will focus on using cloud computing and data analytics in order to reduce the time it takes to get drugs to market. GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley added that advancements in health technology “requires us to rethink our approach.”

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“There’s an opportunity for digital to be equally impactful in this business,” Terrell told the newspaper, pointing to advancements in other industries. “This is what you live for as an engineer.”

Some have said artificial intelligence could speed the development of drugs by targeting genetic information and certain “druggable proteins.” Researchers at the University of Michigan have also noted that better use of existing administrative data could improve drug and device safety.