If there was one cure we’re sure we’d all like to see, it’s a cure for cancer. And one of the companies pioneering the way in sharing data – so researchers can finally track down that elusive cure – is Flatiron Health.
The company, which is headquartered in New York City, runs a cloud-based software platform that connects cancer centers and oncology stakeholders across the country, using big data to hopefully solve one of the biggest health threats of our time. Marta Bralic, vice president of business development at Flatiron, speaks to I Want Her Job: The Podcast Host Polina Selyutin about her and the company’s work.
“The magic happens at Flatiron when you have an oncologist or nurse sitting side-by-side with an engineer, and they are looking at a screen or a whiteboard, and they are trying to figure out how to solve a clinical problem or a data problem [by] actually using some of the modern software applications that are used in other industries, but [which] haven’t so far been applied in a place like oncology,” Marta says.
If you’ve had cancer or know someone who has (isn’t that all of us?!) – or if you’re motivated by working in the data science or health care industries – you can’t miss episode 41 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast.
Topics Discussed In Today’s Show:
- The Big Idea: Flatiron Health’s aim is to build a technology infrastructure for cancer care that enables various stakeholders – researchers, patients and doctors – to connect their data on a common software platform. By centralizing the data, it allows for a larger picture to emerge. Currently, this type of information is often fragmented and siloed. “It’s very hard to get a comprehensive view across the space of how individual patients are getting treated. How are their outcomes? How we can learn from that so we can better take care of patients as a whole?” Marta says.
- All Together Now: “Right now only 4% of U.S. cancer patients are part of a clinical trial,” Marta says. “That means it makes it increasingly hard for us to learn about the experiences of the other 96% of patients.” Flatiron tries to increase the number of patients who have access to a trial, while also learning more about the experiences of a vast majority of people who are not on a trial.
- Diversity Beats Adversity: One of the biggest strengths and differentiators with Flatiron is that it brings people together from sectors of the industry who never would have otherwise met, Marta says. “All teams are cross functional, and it creates a culture of collaboration … It’s so easy to collaborate when you have a common goal around improving cancer care.”
- On Innovation Challenges: From a broad perspective, cancer has touched nearly every individual in some way on a very personal level, Marta says. Taking that to a more granular level starts to highlight the challenges that exist in the industry and showcases why it can be so tough to innovate, she believes. The problem is a vast one, Marta says, and, “We need to break the problem into smaller pieces that we can prioritize.”
- Making An Impact: One of Flatiron’s key values is simple, yet eloquent: Solve problems that matter. It’s the key thought that motivates Marta in her work every day.
- Channeling Confidence: “Raise your hand, and don’t be afraid to take on the next challenge,” Marta says. “When a new opportunity comes up, it may seem daunting, or it may seem like you don’t want to go out and put yourself out there for that new challenge, but be confident that you’ll be able to figure it out.”
- On Early Influences: Marta was born in Belgrade, Serbia and immigrated to New York City with her parents when she was five. With this came a sense of pressure that to have a bigger life that left a big impact, she says. “I took that very seriously … almost too seriously.” But she also credits these feelings with helping her to develop a strong influence and motivate her drive to make a difference and build a future her parents would be proud of.
- Favorite Resources: The First Round Review blog is a favorite regular read for Marta. The article, “’Give Away Your Legos’ and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups” was a particular favorite. One of her favorite books is Smart People Should Build Things by Andrew Yang.
- Learn More: Read this touching story on Flatiron’s work from The Huffington Post and more on its impact in Fast Company and Fortune.
- Connect: Follow Flatiron on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.