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Cota CMO Details Collaboration with IBM Watson Health


Andrew Norden, MD, says that he thinks the 2 companies' technologies together are "unsurpassed."

Andrew Norden, MD, left his post as IBM Watson Health’s deputy chief to become the Chief Medical Officer of Cota in September 2017. That doesn’t mean his old company is far from his mind, however.

Cota and Watson Health are working together, alongside Hackensack Meridian Health, to design accurate, value-minded treatment recommendations. The project combines Cota’s real-world evidence with the Watson for Oncology platform.

“The idea is that as a patient with newly-diagnosed or recurrent breast, lung, or colon cancer comes in to be seen by the doctor, the doctor pulls up this application quickly identifies a cohort of patients who are similar to the one in front of them,” he said. “That brings to bear a wealth of information about treatment options and outcomes.”

Norden said the pilot had been completed for breast cancer and was a “great success.” The 3 firms will be testing the application for lung and colon cancer next.

“Both Watson and Cota are doing really exciting and complementary things,” he said. “Watson has extremely powerful machine learning and AI approaches to bringing together published literature and learning from expert physicians. Cota has access to a wealth of real-world evidence. Together, those capabilities I think are unsurpassed.”

The ability to combine those strengths, Norden says, is quite important. Access to Watson for Oncology’s training from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) deepens its authority and usefulness. Cota also has a partnership with MSKCC, announced in November.

Norden did not give timelines on when the next pilot programs at Hackensack Meridian Health would begin, but he did say that the companies expect to scale their collaborative solution this year.

“For me, the opportunity to work at a smaller company like Cota was a very appealing and exciting one,” he said when asked about his decision to leave Watson last summer. “The startup culture in which everyone is focused on a single goal was an amazing opportunity that I couldn't pass up,” he said.

The fact that his new company is working closely with his old one is another silver lining: “It's worked out very well for me, in the sense that I get to continue working with my colleagues at IBM in partnership and to also have this exciting opportunity at Cota.”

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